Thursday, January 10, 2008



Immediately after the World War I and following the occupation of Istanbul and several other regions of the country by the Allied armies, the British authorities had sent several hundred Ottoman political and military leaders as well as intellectuals, to Island of Malta under the accusation that they were criminals of war and imprisoned them there. The Sublime Porte had vehemently co-operated with the Allied Powers in all areas just in order to keep the sultanate and its very existence and to get rid of the Union and Progress Party that ruled the Empire for ten years and had a significant influence in the Government.

A thoroughgoing examination was made on the Ottoman archives in order to find clues for indicting the Union and Progress Party as well as the detainees both in Malta and in Istanbul. All these efforts did not produce an iota of evidence that might be used to incriminate the Government of that time and the detainees. Despaired by this failure, the British Government screened its own archives and the documents held by the United States Government in Washington. The result was a blatant impasse.

The United States archives contain an interesting document sent to Lord Curzon on 13 July 1921 by Mr. R.C. Craigie, the British Ambassador in Washington. The tenor of this message is as follows: �I regret to state that there is nothing that may be used as evidence against the Turkish detainees in Malta. There are no events that may constitute adequate proofs. The said reports do not appear to contain even circumstantial evidence that could be useful to reinforce the information held by His Majesty�s Government against the Turks.(1)

On 29 July 1921, the legal advisers in London decided that the intended indictments addressed against the persons on the the British Foreign Ministry�s list were semi-political in nature and therefore these individuals should be treated separately from the Turks detained as criminals of war.

They also stated the following: �No statements were hitherto received from the witnesses to the effect that the indictments intended against the detainees are correct. Likewise it does not need to be restated that finding witnesses after so long a time is highly doubtful in a remote country like Armenia which is accessible only with great difficulties. (2) This statement was also made by the legal advisers in London of His Majesty�s Government.

In the end, the detainees in Malta were released in 1922 without trial and even indictment.

Yet the efforts to smear image of Turks with the so-called genocide claims had not come to an end as the British press published certain documents attempting to prove the existence of a massacre claimed to have been perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire while efforts were on-stream to start a lawsuit in Malta. It was stated that these documents were unearthed by the British occupation forces in Syria led by General Allenby. The inquiries subsequently made by the British Foreign Office revealed, however, that these documents were fakes prepared by the Armenian Nationalist Delegation in Paris and distributed to the Allied representatives instead of having been discovered by the British army.


1. PRO.FO. 13th July 1971, 371/6504/E8519.

2. Foreign Office, 29th July 1921, 371/6504/E8745

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