22 Jun 1914: Turkish Persecution of Greeks, Ashburton Guardian



Asburton Guardian,
June 22, 1914.


      A touch of grim irony appears in
Turkey's preparations for the expected
war   with   Greece  over  the  Aegean
Islands. Money must be raised to buy
and equip a fleet, and as many wealthy
Greek merchants are living in Turkey,
they are   being  made to   contribute
heavily for the war on their homeland.
In  the  case  of  the  poorer   Greeks,
we read, a simpler course is followed, the
Turks take everything they have and
advising  them  to  go  home.   A few
months ago Turkey  bought  a Dread-
nought  that  was  building for Brazil.
Greece followed by acquiring a cruiser
building for China, and a few days ago
ordered a  24,000 -ton  battleship of a
French company, to  be  delivered in
1916. These preparations show what
eventualities  the  two  Governments
have in view. Our information regard-
ing the persecution of Greeks in Turkey
(says the  "Literary Digest")  is  taken
from   the  "Ekklesiastike Alethia," a
Greek organ published  in  Constanti-
nople, which says:-

      "The news arriving from the pro-
vinces  of  Asia Minor and Thrace con-
tinues to paint in darkest colours the
status of our compatriots, the destruc-
tion and almost the radical extermina-
tion of whom forms the fair goal of
endevours   of   certain  patriots  in
these latter days, who wish to show
their   patriotic  zeal.    Their   aim  is
clear: it is to weaken the Greek Ortho-
dox element and compel the Greeks
to emigrate.   The  means used differ
in Asia and Europe according to the
situation.  In   Asia Minor,  where the
Greek population holds the threads of
the economic life and grows by trading,
they are trying to strike at the very
source  of  its  social  existence by pro-
claiming against it a most inhuman
boycott and compelling it to furnish
contributions far beyond its means for
the Ottoman fleet. The bigoted outrcry
against our commercial class is heard
everywhere; and the Press sounds the
tocsin   against  those who are repre-
sented as plotting against their Moslem
neighbours. Persons of the lowest sort
are gathered and  set  against  Greek
shops, and these insult the guileless
Moslems who trade with them, threat-
ening   them  with   all sorts of evils if
they do not cut off all relations with
the Greeks. And the astonishing thing
is that the local authorities in some
places look on heedless at what is done
or content themselves with the platonic
assurances that things will quieten
down, or with saying they are not
suitable; while in many others they
take share in this business and even
head the movement."

The position of things is even worse
in Thrace, where the war made its
saddest havoc. The Greek editor in
the Turkish capital gives a touching
and pathetic account of the scenes
through which he passed, and the fol-
lowing details help us to realise how
terrible were the ravages of the late
struggle, whose spoils the Turk is now
trying to seize:-
"In Eastern Thrace, where, because
of the catastrophes of the war, there
is no business life, the destructive con-
test is carried on in a brief fashion by
the simpler method of merely stealing
the belongings of the Greeks, who are
bluntly told without circumlocution
that their only hope of safety lies in
leaving their homes. Moslem refugees
are being settled in Greek Orthodox
villages; they drive out the owners
from their houses and fields and take
possession of these, steal their belong-
ings, and strip them in every possible
way. Furthermore, the compulsory
collections for the fleet, carried on be-
yond all limit - for from one poor vil-
lage of 30 houses they gathered 60 liras
- the beatings, ill-treatment of every
sort, false accusations and imprison-
ments of the leading men so as to
frighten the rest, and the altogether
atrocious action of the lesser govern-
ment officials are all signs of this same
situation; and there is also the chronic
question of amnesty, with its accom-
panying daily imprisonments and re-
leases and second imprisonments and
transfers from prison to prison."


Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8870, 22 June 1914, Page 5


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