A Comparative Analysis of the Young Turk Trials of 1919-1921 and 1926


Meline V. Anumyan
The article compares the Young Turk trials of the 1919-1921 Military Tribunal of the Ottoman Empire and the 1926 Independence trials in the Turkish Republic and highlights the preservation of the Ittihat tradition in the Republic of Turkey.

The 1919-1921 Ittihat trials took place thanks to international pressure and as a result of the coming to power, once again, of the Freedeom and Agreement Party who was in opposition to the Unity and Progress Party (Ittihatin). The Young Turk trials that took place in 1926, in the case of the assassination attempt in Izmir and Ankara or the “Group of Black Bandits,” wasn’t so much due pressure as certain attempts at intervention on the part of a number of states. The deportation and extermination of the Armenians, the creation of the “Special Organization”which played an important role in the realization of the Armenian Genocide, dragging the country without valid reasons into the world war, allowing for economic abuses, working within the black market and threatening the country’s security all served as a basis for the 1919-1921 Ittihat trials. In addition to these accusations the trials of 1926 spoke to the objective of taking over power by those Young Turks who had dragged the country into war and then sped off abroad, their activities in foreign countries and their later attempts to reestablish their party in Turkey. Among the accusations in 1926, the accusation of deporting and slaughtering Christians, in particular, Armenians was outrightly absent. Moreover, during the entire course of the trial, there was not a single mention about the extermination of the Christians by the Young Turks during the First World War.

The criminal case against the Unity and Progress party of 1919-1921 was not one of retribution by the powerless Ittilaf government; that was the 1926 trials of Izmir and Ankara by the Kemalist government, comprised of the same Ittihat party. The 1926 trial of the Young Turks, by putting an end to the Ittihatist “deep state” in Turkey, placed the foundation for the development of another Kemalist deep state – to settle scores with the Armenian retaliation against several escaped leaders of the Ittihat, however leaving the Ittihat idealogy and practice intact in political life.

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