THE RETURN OF RELOCATED ARMENIANS
The migration was sometimes stopped during relocation both due to the weather conditions and congestion. Starting from November 25, 1915, with the orders sent to the provinces, the migration has been provisionally interrupted due to winter. (1) On February 21st 1916, an order was sent to all provinces to stop the Armenian relocation. However, it has been indicated that this would not cover the harmful people, the ones related with the committees would be immediately collected and sent to Zor province subdivision. (2)
Upon the administrative and military necessity, a general order was sent stating that as of March 15th 1916, the Armenian migration was stopped and no relocation would be made for any reasons thereafter. (3)
After the completion of relocation, since the Armenians were mostly settled mostly in Syria province, the Armenian Patriarchy in Istanbul was closed on August 10th 1916 and moved to Jerusalem. Sis and Akdamar Cathogicospacies were united and moved to Jerusalem. (4) The chairmanship of the newly established patriarchy has been given to Sis Cathogicospos Sahak Efendi. (5)
Following the end of the 1st World War, Ottoman Government has issued a decree for the return of the Armenians subjected to relocation to their former locations. In the letter sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mustafa Pasha to the Prime Ministry on January 1919, it is indicated that orders have been given to the related places for the transportation of the Armenians, who wanted to return, to their former locations and that the necessary precautions have been taken. (6) The decree of return prepared by the government, dated December 31st 1918 is as follows:
1- Only the ones, who want to return, will be migrated, except those people, no one else will be touched.
2- The precautions necessary will be taken for assuring a good journey, and for preventing housing and catering shortage in the returning locations; the migration and returning transactions will be started after contact is established with the administrators of the regions they will return to and after the necessary precautions are taken.
3- The abandoned houses and lands will be returned to the owners.
4- The houses of the ones, where formerly immigrants have been placed, will be evacuated.
5- A few families may be settled in the same location temporally in order to provide sufficient housing.
6- Buildings such as churches, schools and the income generating locations will be returned to the society they belong to.
7- If requested, the orphans will be returned to their guardians, who will be carefully determined, or to their societies, after their identifications are carefully determined.
8- The ones, who have converted their religions, will be able to return to their former religion if they want to.
9- Among the Armenian women, who have married to Muslims and converted their religions will be free to return to their former religion. In this case their marriage act will be automatically canceled. The problems relating to the ones, who do not want to return to their former religion and not wish to divorce from their husbands will be dissolved by the courts.
10- The Armenian properties, which are not in anyone�s ownership, will be returned to their first owners and the return of those which have become the property of treasury will be decided with the approval of the property officers. Further explanatory minutes will be prepared about this issue.
11- The property sold to the Muslim immigrants will be delivered to their first owners gradually as their owners return. Article 4 will be definitely applied.
12- If the Muslim immigrants have made repairs and additions in the houses and stores that will be returned to their former owners, or if they have planted the lands and olive groves, the rights of both sides will be observed.
13- The immigration and expenses of the Armenians in need will be met from the Military College Allowance.
14- The amount of transportation made until the current time and the amount of transportation made and the target location of such transportation will be notified on the fifteenth and last days of each month.
15- The Armenians, who have left the Ottoman borders and who want to return, will not be accepted until a new order is issued.
The provisions of the decree explained herein above were valid for the Greek immigrants as well as the Armenians.
Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.
1) Coding Office, no 57/273; no 58/124; no 58/161; no 59/123; no 60/190
2) Coding Office, no 61/72
3) Coding Office, no 62/21
4) For the new regulation made in 1916 for the Armenian Patriarchy, see Y. H. Batur, Turkish Revolution History, III/3, p. 57-59.
5) Coding Office, no 66/202; no 66/220; no 63/136
6) BA, BEO, no 341055. This letter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has also been transferred to the Ministry of Courthouse and Sects due to its relation, on 26 Kanun-u evvel 1334 (January 8th 1919), by the Prime Ministry.