Secret Societies of All Ages: Vol 2 - Charles Heckethorn

X. Turkish Societies

605. Young Turkey.—The vivifying wave of revolutionary ideas which swept over Europe in the first half of this century extended even to Turkey, and, in imitation of its effects in other countries, produced a Young Turkey, as it had produced a Young Germany, a Young Poland, a Young Italy, and so on. Mr. David Urquhart, as violent a Turcophile as he was a Russophobe, attributed to Moustapha Fazyl-Pacha, whom he calls a Turkish "Catiline," the doubtful honour of having been the founder of Young Turkey, whose aims were the abolition of the Koran and of the Sultan's authority, the emancipation, in fact, of Turkey from religious and civil despotism. The society did not make much progress in the earlier half of the century, hence, in 1867, a new association with the same title, and under the same chief, was formed at Constantinople, Paris, and London. Its objects were the same as those of the first society, with the additional aim of destroying Russian influence in the East by the emancipation of the Christian subjects of the Porte. The members of the directing committee in Paris and London were Zia Bey, Aghia-Effendi, Count Plater, a Pole, living at Zurich, Kemal Bey, and Simon Deutsch. The chief agent of the committee at Constantinople was M. Bonnal, a French banker at Pera. Moustapha Pacha agreed to contribute annually three hundred thousand francs to the funds of the association. Murad Bey, the brother of the present Sultan, is now the leader of the Young Turkey party, of which Midhat Pacha was a prominent member. Murad Bey attributes to the Sultan himself and the palace camarilla all the evils from which the country is now suffering.

606. Armenian Society.—We shall see further on (637) that the Armenians of Russia formed a secret society against that country in 1888; recent events (1896) have prominently brought before Europe the existence in Turkey of Armenian societies. They are organised in the same way as the old venditas of the Carbonari; that is to say, the committees do not know one another, nor even the central committee from . which they receive orders. They number five, and comprise altogether about two hundred members. Each committee has a significant name. They are called Huntchak (Alarm), Frochak (Flag), Abdag (Bellows), Gaizag (Thunderbolt), and Votchintchak (Destruction). The last two are the most recently created. The committees act according to a plan fixed by the occult central committee. Thus the Huntchak organised the demonstration in 1895 at the Porte, while the attack on the Ottoman Bank (1896) devolved on the Frochak committee. There remain three, who will have to act successively.

In the following month of October the Armenian revolutionary leaders sent a letter to the French Embassy at Constantinople, threatening further outrages. The latest detailed account of the society, published in December 1896, says: The discovery of seditious papers found in the possession of Armenian conspirators, when arrested in December 1896 at Kara Hissar Charki, reveals all the details of the revolutionary programme, circulated by the leaders of the insurrection, and imposed on their adherents. The programme includes thirty-one draconic rules, to which the members of the numerous Armenian bands have to submit. For instance, each band must be composed of at least seven members, who take an oath that they will submit to torture, and even to death, rather than betray the secrets of the society. By Rule 14 the band is ordered to carry off into the mountains any unjust or cruel Ottoman official, to compel him to reveal any State secret which he may possess, and even to put him to death. Rule 15 authorises the band to attack and plunder the mails and couriers, but it must not assail any person found travelling alone on the roads, unless it is absolutely necessary in the interest of the band to do so.

Any member showing cowardice, when fighting, is to be shot at once. The chief is the absolute master of the band, and may punish as he chooses any member with whom he is dissatisfied. Amongst some of the most stringent clauses is one which orders the members to act as spies upon each other, and to report to the chief all the doings and movements of one another. One of the characteristic features of the Armenian revolution is the use of numerous disguises, which enable them to go secretly through towns and circulate arms and seditious literature, pamphlets, and even pictures, with the view of inciting the Armenian population against the Imperial Government. The English agitation of the present day in favour of the Armenians shows the crass ignorance existing in this country as to the true character of that people. If the Armenians were worthy of, or fit for, the liberty they claim, they would do as the Swiss—a poor nation, whilst the Armenians are rich—did five hundred years ago in fighting Austria they would fight Turkey.