Circassian Genocide - Resettlement


Special commissions were set up by the Russian imperial authorities to reduce mortality rates and "survey needs of the migrants", that is, to prevent ships from being overloaded, to profitably auction bulky possessions, and to provide clothing and food for the poorest families, who would be transported "without fee or charge of any kind". On the other hand, the Ottoman authorities failed to offer any support to the newly arrived. They were settled in the inhospitable mountainous regions of Inner Anatolia and were employed on menial and exhausting jobs.

During the year of 1864 alone about 220,000 muhajirs disembarked in Anatolia. Between March 6 and May 21, 1864, the entire Ubykh people had departed the Caucasus for Turkey. By the end of the resettlement, more than 400,000 Circassians, as well as 200,000 Abkhazians and Ajars, fled to Turkey. The term Çerkes, "Circassians", became the blanket term for them in Turkey because the majority were Adyghe.

The expulsion resulted in the depopulation of vast swaths of the Western Caucasus, specifically the fertile Pontic littoral near Sochi. The Tsarist government was so alarmed by the resulting decline in the regional economy that in 1867 it banned emigration with the exception of "isolated exceptional cases". Nevertheless, a large number of households later managed to leave Russia when they went on the hajj to Mecca and remained with their relatives in Turkey, as the Russian embassy in İstanbul would often report.

Shamil's son Muhamed Shafi was appalled by the conditions the migrants had faced upon their arrival to Anatolia and went to investigate the situation: "I will write to Abdülmecid that he should stop fooling mountaineers... The government's cynicism could not be more pronounced. The Turks triggered the resettlement by their proclamations, probably hoping to use the refugees for military ends... but after facing the avalanche of refugees, they turned turtle and shamefully condemned to slow death those people who were ready to die for Turkey's glory".

Read more about this topic:  Circassian Genocide

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