12 Apr 1923: Turkish Barbarism. Deportation Horrors, West Australian

westaustralian12041923

TURKISH BARBARISM
Deportation Horrors.

The West Australian, Perth.
April 12, 1923. p.7.

   I have just returned here from the
Selimie Barracks of Scutari, where
10,000 Ottoman Greeks who have been
turned out by the Turks, mostly at a
moment's notice, from the Trebizond
vilayet and other places on the Black
Sea coast and inland, are in quaran-
tine (cabled the special correspondent
of the London "Daily Telegraph" from
Constantinople on February 13). Bear
in mind that these are not Greek sub-
jects at all, but people for whose wel-
fare the Turks should be responsible.
Without any warning being given them,
in the past two weeks all these poor
folk have been taken from their farms
or shops or homes, seized in the sreets
dragged from their houses, bundled
on to ships, and, with scarcely a thing
beyond what they were wearing, dump-
ed into these barracks to await remov-
al to Greece. This is notwithstand-
ing the fact that the Turks were re-
peatedly warned offically that Greece
for the time being could take no more
of these refugees. She has already ab-
sorbed over a million of them, and has
no room and no money left. So for
three weeks the wretched people have
been accumuluated here, jerked from
prosperity to a condition scarcely better
than death. Smallpox soon broke out.
The Greek hospital near by has 300
cases, and is full; yet there were twelve
new casses yesterday. The local funds
have been exhausted, and not a piastre
is left for the cost of administration.
The only assured regular supply of any-
thing now is half a loaf of bread per
day per head from the American Near
East Relief Associaton.
   So far all efforts to get the High Com-
missioners to intervene have failed.
Monetary help should come immediately,
but it is not to be had here because the
calls are so heavy and so continuous.
Colonel Emery, the British commandant
at Haidar Pasha, visited the place to-day
and is voluntarily endeavouring to or-
ganise additional food supplies, including
spare bread from the navy, etc., but
money is wanted, too - money and firm-
ness with the Turks. The Patriarchate
Commission, which organises relief, has
sent £T305,000, which has all been fur-
nished by the private subscriptions of
Greeks here and abroad except £T65,000
from the Hellenic Government. The
Greek Government yesterday presented
a Note to the Turkish Government
through the Spanish Embassy, stating
that the expulsion of these people is
contrary to the agreement arrived at in
Lausanne, and warning the Turkish Gov-
ernment that if the process is continued
Greece will at once expel an equal num-
ber of Turks.
          Living in Stables.
   Meanwhile, the problem confronts us of
saving this miserable 10,000, and at
least 2,000 more who are on their way.
In two wings of the barracks 7,000
men, women, and children are huddled
together, without the smallest chance of
one second's privacy. In the tumbledown
stables there are another 2,000, and in
yet another stable, the worst of the lot,
1,000 more. The other part of the bar-
racks is occupied by the Bosnians and Rus-
sians. The condition in the barracks
themselves is shocking, and in the stables
there are scenes beyond description.
Every inch of the main building is occu-
ied - every slimy corridor, with gaping
holes in its floor, every dripping stair-
way, every dark and noisome room, all
are crowded. Most of these people were
only able to carry away their bedding.
Here they are lying on it, often three
generations in a heap, trying to keep
warm, for it is much colder here than
in London. Here and there are impro-
vised braziers, fed with charcoal, the
mephitic fumes of which only serve to
add to the general whickness of the
atmosphere.
   Some rooms I saw were simply a mass
of prone bundles and rags; there was
not space in which to place one's foot.
I went into one room about 30ft. square
in which were 136 people and their scanty
belongings - all that is left of the village
of Mesarea. But these folk were com-
fortable when compared with the later
comers, who have to occup[y] the stables.
Here there is no room to walk, even be-
tween the stalls, and the platforms over-
head, presumably once used for hay, are
now covered with people too. Some had
made a pathetic attempt to stake out a
chain by spreading their bedding on the
rough, wet stone floor and placing a few
old boxes round it - privacy 18in. high.
            In Manure Stores.
   All these people a little while ago were
well-to-do peasants, tobacco cultivators,
who owned cattle and implements, but
now possess not a thing. The Moslems
get it all, and the Turks actually seized
some of the goods they carried and used
them to pay their passages - compulsory
pasages - in Turkish steamers. That
was Stables No. 1.
   Stables No. 2 h[a]d really been a manure
store. The conditions prevailing here do
not bear reciting in detail, but there was
still a great heap of manure in the place. A
dead man lay stark with his living family
touching him all round. A youth stag-
gered out with a flushed and blisterred girl
on his back - the latest smallpox cas[ualty?]
and away in the dark interior one saw
people and more people.
   That is the Selimie Barracks, looking
out over the beeutiful Bosporus as I saw
it to-day - a blot on civlisation. Turkey
has been warned, but her reply has been
to send people here more quickly than
ever, and to charge them for coming in
Turkish ships. They are not allowed,
and rightly so considering the present
conditions, access to the town and their
friends. They simply lie and wait and
catch diseases. Outside in some cases
are relatives who would receive them.
A man was out at the gates this morning
begging to be given his wife and three
children, but it cannot be done, for they
are in what is called quarantine.


Turkish Barbarism. The West Australian, 12 April 1923. The National Library of Australia.

 

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