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THE RAYAIIS OF TURKEY.
The four primary conditions of happiness for civilised beings are:
1. Security for life.
The Christian subjects of Turkey have no security for any of the four. They are literally outlaws in their own land, and may be wronged to any extent with impunity. That this is no exaggeration will be perceived when I add that their evidence is never received against a Mussulman except in some isolated cases, easily accounted for, and so few that they do not affect the general statement. But to debar a man from giving evidence befor the law, either as prosecutor or defendant, is clearly to make an outlaw of him. For an outlaw is defined as a person excluded from the benefit of the law, or deprived of its protection. This is an exact description of the Christian subject of Turkey. The exclusion of Christian evidence places him, without the slightest redress as far as the law is concerned, at the mercy of the first Mussulman who assails him in his person, his honour, his religion, or his property. And the probibition to bear arms deprives him at the
REJECTION OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE.
same time of what Burke calls the first fundamental right of uncovenanted man,' the right of self-defence, the first law of nature.'1 Let him be the victim of ever so monstrous a crime-the murder of his dearest relation, the maiming of his person, the rape of wife or daughter : where shall he look for redress? Shall he appeal to the law and invoke the arm of justice against the offender ? Very good. The crime was committed in the presence of scores of spectators. But the Mussulmans refuse to give evidence against
a True Believer in favour of the despised and hated Giaour and the evidence of the Christians is rejected, though guaranteed in magnificent phrases by innumerable. Hatts and Firmans. The complaint of the Christian is therefore summarily rejected, and he may deem himself lucky if he escape the bastinado for having made a false charge against a Mussulman.
When the judge knows that the accused Mussulman is prepared with false witnesses, he may possibly admit Christian evidence; and then the result is thus related in the Blue Books :
• If it be proved that a Turk slew a Christian at a certain place on a certain day, he will find witnesses who will prove that on the said day he was at another place at any distance from that where the crime was committed, and they will confirm their evidence by an oath on the Kitab (Koran]. Then the scene suddenly changes, and severe penalties are incurred by the Giaour calumniators who have dared to profane the sanctuary of the courts with base lies and aspersions to the injury of an innocent Mussulman. Then the remarks and the just anger of the Cadi and Medjlis echo throughout the
Works, vol. iv. p. 199. (Reflections on the Revolution in France.)
city, and those poor fellows are at once thrown manacled into prison, fined, and rendered infamous for ever.' (Parl. Papers of 1876, No. ii. p. 38.)
p This statement may be illustrated by the following case related in MacFarlane's. Destiny of Turkey,' vol. i.
I am indebted for the quotation to Mr. Denton's Christians of Turkey,' p. 103. The incident took place after the Hatti-humayoun which abolished torture-on paper :
• During the late Ramazan Hadji Dhimitri, of Asciàkeui, a picturesque village in the ravine, situated among high rocks, which we had seen on our right hand in coming up from Keuplu to Billijik, had been miserably crippled and otherwise injured by order of the Turkish court, which had let off Abdullah Effendi without so much as a reprimand. Turks as well as Greeks lived at Ascià-keui. One day poor Hadji Dhimitri had with great toil brought up water from a fountain, and had filled his reservoir in order to irrigate his little garden and mulberry ground. A Turk, his neighbour, one Kara-Ali, came to him and said that he wanted that water for his own garden, and must have it. The Greek said that he might have brought up water for himself, but that he was free to take part of it. The Turk got into a towering passion, called the Greek a Giaour and pezavenk, and swore he would have all the water. The quarrel was hot, but short. Dhimitri, fearing consequences if he resisted, went away and left the Turk to take and wantonly waste the water, merely saying that he submitted to violence and injustice, and that the Tanzimaut meant nothing. The Turkish savage went to the Mudir and Kadi at Billijik, and vowed that Hadji Dhimitri had wanted to rob him of his water, and had uttered horrible blasphemies against the Koran and the
REJECTION OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE.
Prophet. Tufekjees were sent to Ascià-keui, and Hadji Dhimitri, being first of all soundly beaten, was handcuffed and chained and brought up to Billijik. The Greeks of the village were afraid of appearing in such a case against a Mussulman ; but four or five did follow the unfortunate Hadji to the hall, misnamed of justice, and were there to depose that it was the Turk who had taken by violence his water and had traduced his religion; and that he, the Hadji, though excited by anger, had not said a word against the Koran or the Prophet. But the testimony of these Christians could not be taken against Mussulman witnesses, and Kara-Ali, the Turk, was provided with two false witnesses, one being Shakir Bey, his son-in-law, and the other Otuz-Bir-Oglou-AchmetBey. The pair were false witnesses of notoriety, and generally reputed to be the two greatest scoundrels of the town. There were scores upon scores of people who had seen them at the coffee-house in Billijik at the hour and time they pretended to have been at Asciàkeui, four miles off. But of those who had thus seen them the Mussulmans would not appear, and the Christians could not get their evidence received in court. Kara-Ali swore to the truth of his statement; his two false witnesses swore that they had heard the Greek blaspheme their holy religion, and by sentence of the Kadi poor Hadji Dhimitri received, then and there, 300 strokes of the bastinado. His toes were broken by the blows, his feet were beaten to a horrible jelly, he screamed and fainted under the torture. There were some among our narrators who had seen this forbidden torture inflicted, and others who had heard the poor man's sbrieks. The victim was carried home on the back of an ass; he had been laid prostrate for more than six weeks; it was only the day before our arrival that he had been able to attend the Billijik market, and then he was lame and sick—a hobbling, crippled, broken man. “ The law,” said one of our party, “is equal in the two cases. If Hadji Dhimitri were guilty, he was only guilty of that which we have all heard from the lips of Abdullah Effendi this morning in the khan ; yet the Hadji is cruelly bastinadoed and lamed for life, and this same Kadi does not even reprimand the Effendi. What then is the use of this Tanzimaut ? ” “ The use of it,” said Tchelebee John, “is just this ; it throws dust in the eyes of the foreign ambassadors at Constantinople who recommended its promulgation, and it humbugs half the nations of Christendom, where people believe in newspaper reports.”'
This may appear to soine—not unnaturally I admit -80 monstrous a state of things in any country professing to be civilised that they may reasonably refuse to believe it on any ground short of the most positive and irrefutable evidence. That evidence I now proceed to lay before the reader in sufficient abundance, I believe, to satisfy all whose minds are open to conviction. It is a fair sample out of a large mass of facts in my possession ; and the first witnesses whom I shall put into the Box are Her Majesty's Consuls.
Instructed by the Government at home, Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, Sir Henry Bulwer, addressed a series of questions to the British Consuls throughout Turkey on the condition of the Christians in that empire. This was in the summer of 1860, and the Reports of the Consuls, together with the list of questions which elicited them, were published in 1861, and presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty.'
Among the questions asked was the following: