Special for the Armenian Weekly
Sait Molla was a lawyer, member of the Turkish Council of State, and founder of the Anglophile Society (Ingiliz Muhipleri Cemiyeti). In 1918, he began to publish a daily paper in Istanbul called Türkçe İstanbul. On March 25, 1919, the newspaper published what it claimed was the Letter of Instruction from the head office of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) to the Special Organization (Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa) units as the deportation of Armenians during the genocide began.
The newspaper called it “A Tragic and Dreadful Document,” and noted it was reprinting the document without making any changes. The Letter of Instruction consists of 10 articles that describe the steps to be taken in the deportation process. These are the same steps that scholars like Taner Akçam, Donald Bloxham, and Uğur Ümit Üngör have described as being part of the deportations.
Of course, the authenticity of such a document is not guaranteed. Türkçe Istanbul neglected to mention the source of the letter. Moreover, the archives of the CUP disappeared following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
Regardless of these questions, however, it is noteworthy that there were Ottoman Turkish dailies like Türkçe İstanbul, Alemdar, and Peyam, which criticized the CUP and discussed the topic intensively in the wake of World War I.
The text of the newspaper’s piece follows.
‘A tragic and dreadful document’
Article 1. Close all of the Armenian associations by using the third and fourth articles of the Law of Associations; arrest the executive members who were opposing the CUP government, deport them to provinces such as Mosul and Baghdad, and kill them en route or at their final destination.
Article 2. Collect all of the weapons of the Armenians.
Article 3. Prepare Muslim public opinion through appropriate means, organize some planned incidents—like Russia did in Baku—in cities such as Van, Erzurum, and Adana, where the Armenians by their own actions have earned the hatred of the Muslims.
Article 4. Leave the implementation totally to the general populace in provinces like Erzurum, Van, Mamuretulaziz, and Bitlis, and use the troops and military forces to appear as if they are preventing the massacres. On the contrary, support Muslims with military force in places like Adana, Sivas, Bursa, İzmit, and İzmir.
Article 5. Apply [measures] of annihilation to school teachers and especially to men below 50. (Leave the women and children to be converted to Islam.)
Article 6. Clear away the families of those who managed to run away and take measures to cut off their ties with their hometowns completely.
Article 7. Discharge all Armenian officials from all government offices and branches by accusing them of spying.
Article 8. Annihilate the men serving in the army by the military in an appropriate fashion.
Article 9. Start all measures at the same time in order to leave no time to prepare means of defense.
Article 10. Keep this letter of instruction private and take utmost care to keep it between one or two persons.
It is a reality that those Armenians who were deported were killed and annihilated in accordance with the letter of instruction written above. While we avoid elaborating on it further, we publish the document exactly the same.
March 25, 1919
Editor’s Note: Similar documents were published in the Turkish press during the post-World War I years.