The distress and persecutions did not end with the crush of the uprising. A letter of September 9, 1903, written by the General Staff of the Second Macedonia-Edirne Revolutionary District, addressed to the government of the Bulgarian Principality and delivered via the Executive of the Bulgarian Trade Agency seated in Bitola, is indicative of the deplorable plight of Bulgarian nationals in Macedonia and Edirne region in the wake of the uprising. The letter, urging for immediate support, including military intervention, is an eloquent document of the ruin of Bulgarian population and its unending hardships:
"In view of the critical and horrible situation, which Bulgarian population faced in the Bitola Vilayet after the devastations and atrocities committed by the Turkish troops and bashi-bazouk; in view of the fact that those devastations and atrocities are continuing on a systematic base and there is no way to foresee how far they could go; further, in view of the perspective that every Bulgarian here faces the risk to be killed and vanish without any memory of the violation, hunger and upcoming penury, the General Staff deems it our duty to draw the attention of the Esteemed Bulgarian Government to the pending fatal ramifications to the Bulgarian nation, in case the government fails to do its duty to its blood brothers here in an impressive and active manner, necessitated by the situation and the danger Bulgarian society is facing today.
Believing that the Esteemed Government is briefed on the ultimate ruin of the vilayet, we deem it unnecessary to repeat detailed facts, so we are to restrict ourselves to summarizing in a few points the present situation and the impending and immediate ramifications to our people.
2. All materials, implements and horned cattle used to plough the fields were burnt in the villages, and what remained, was plundered by the soldiers and the bashi-bazouk.
3. Almost all small farm animals which w?re the means of living of a greater part of the mountain population, were killed or driven away again by the order of the authorities.
4. All burnt villages were plundered prior to being set ablaze; similar was the lot of those of the villages that have not been yet reduced to ashes - the houses were left with bare walls and their inhabitants, men, women and children - with only their clothes on.
5. Religious rites are abandoned, the churches were also burnt along with the
villages, and those not set ablaze, were looted, damaged and desecrated. In many places Turks used them during their stay in the villages either as stables or lavatories, for example in the villages of Tash Munishta, Smilevo, Kriveni, Krushe, etc.
6. No Bulgarian school opened, neither would open, because:
- The population is displaced as a result from the Turkish terror;
- Almost all the teachers as well as the priests joined the militant detachments, hence became incapacitated;
- Nobody thinks of education being outlawed because of one's Bulgarian nationality and fighting hunger;
7. In many places the Turkish authorities informed the remaining population that they would have to pass under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate, if willing their lives to be spared. Examples: the regions of Ohrid, Kostur, Lerin and Bitola, where the troops accompanied by a Greek Bishop forced the population to lay down their arms and recognize the Patriarchate.
8. After our first attacks, we saw ourselves forced to remain passive, as whenever we engage in battle against the mobilized Turkish battalions either waiting in ambush or from positions in compliance with our action tactics, after the end of the battle the Turks assault the nearby unarmed men, women and children and kill whomever they come upon, rape women and maids, set on fire villages and forests and drive away the livestock. Cases: in the villages of Armensko, Lerinsko, where 114 old people, children and women were killed, Krushe, Leoraka, Kriveni, Zlatari, Podmochani, Elha, etc. in the region of Resen; Plake, Rechitsa, Sirulia, Kuratitsa, etc. in the region of Ohrid; Smilevo, Dyavato, in the region of Bitola and so on.
As a result from the aforementioned, we bring to the attention of the Esteemed Bulgarian Government the deplorable and helpless plight of the people at the present moment as well as the impending in foreseeable future cruel and sad fate in financial and healthy and spiritual and educational aspects. Being eyewitnesses of this appalling situation, we dare to outline in no uncertain terms the gloomy future perspectives as follows:
1. As a result from hunger and upcoming winter, one third of the people are doomed to certain death.
2. As the cattle and farming implements fell a prey to either fires or Turks, the population, even if they be left alone, with no means to cultivate the land would find themselves forced to become farmhands.
3. The rest of the population, degrading spiritually and in want of the necessary means of subsistence, would not be able to stand against the will of Turkish authorities and the alluring and scaring propaganda of rampant Greek bishops and their underlings and for sure would pass under the jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarchate, thus being lost for good to the Bulgarian Church and nation.
4. Let's not overlook the following: For a while now, the Bulgarian population here has been secretly proposed by Catholic or Protestant missionaries to convert in case they want to be protected from Turkish atrocities. No wonder if that part of the population who would not succumb to Greek enticements, would convert to Protestantism or the Uniat Church.
In view of all this, we wonder as to why the Esteemed Government, running the interests of the Bulgarian people, is continuing to look with equanimity at the systematic extermination of Bulgarians and at how they are losing face and prestige before the world.
In our capacity of leaders of the national movement here, we call on you on behalf of enslaved Bulgarians to come to their rescue in a most efficient manner -through war. We believe that the response is the same among the people in Independent Bulgaria. Looking forward to your patriotic intervention, we are pleased to inform you that we have at our disposal our armed forces that we have spared for the time being. The General Staff"
Bulgaria, pressed by international commitments and being a special object of suspicion on the part of the Great Powers, who never forgot the Union of the Bulgarian Principality and Eastern Rumelia carried out against their will, received through diplomatic channels warnings against any initiatives in that line. The only thing Bulgaria could do in an environment of international isolation was to open up its borders for refugees from Eastern Thrace and Macedonia.
In the wake of the Uprising on Saint Elijah's Day, the Great Powers imposed on the Ottoman Empire the so-called Mursteg reforms concerning the Macedonian population. The reforms aimed at gradual improvement of the administration in order to ease the pressure on the non-Muslim population. However, the envisaged control exerted including through introducing the status of civil agents and foreign officers proved to be insufficient and, in fact, the reforms failed to achieve their goal. They did not ease the plight of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, all the more so that the reforms did not apply to Eastern Thrace, where compact groups of Bulgarian population
lived at the time. The willfulness of the authorities, atrocities and murders committed by Turkish, Albanian, Greek and Serbian bands, involving regular Turkish troops went on, violating and ruining the ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace even after the implementation of the reforms.
On July 9, 1905, Bulgarian Trade Agent seated in Edirne filed a report to the diplomatic representative for the Bulgarian Principality in Istanbul, Dr. Grigor Nachovich, stating that the information delivered from the region of Malko Tarnovo is not at all a comfort, quite the contrary, it is indicative of the sufferings of ethnic Bulgarians in that part of Eastern Thrace, where soldiers were still committing outrages unpunished.
In another report of December 31, he informed the diplomatic representative in Istanbul that all across Eastern Thrace persecutions on the part of the authorities against Bulgarian teachers and priests had been stepped up. In a report of January 31, 1905, he tells of information received from a random traveler that in the prison of Orta Koy some 80 had been detained.
Of violence against Bulgarians in the Bitola region informs also the trade agent there in a letter sent on February 7, 1905, to the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs General Racho Petrov:
"Esteemed Minister, for a month now, Bulgarians from Deburtsa, Ohrid region, have been subject to unceasing persecutions both on the part of the authorities and the bashi-bazouk. Villagers are not leaving their villages to go to the markets or the fields for the risk of being killed by the bashi-bazouk, who are prowling about the roads day and night armed cap-a-pie."
Bulgaria's Prime Minister received a detailed letter also from the trade agent in Skopje, who informed him on February 6, 1905, of the joint actions against Bulgarians by Albanian bands of bandits and Turkish committees:
"Esteemed Minister, Albanian gangs of bandits, set up and financed by Turkish patriotic committees on the extermination of Bulgarians are developing on a systematic basis their exterminatory activities.
Leaders of these gangs as a rule are Turkish notables and beys, and on more than one occasion, officials, such as the prosecutor of the high court of law in Kumanovo, who also chairs the Kumanovo Turkish Patriotic Committee. In his encouragements this arm of the law conveyed to the rampant Albanian bands, he warned them of one thing: to kill, never leaving any eyewitnesses of their evil deeds alive. This is why these bands are now acting in the regions of Kumanovo and Palanec, where the Serb propaganda is also developing an exterminatory activity as concerning Bulgarians, a fact, which could be used to cover the crimes committed by the gangs of the Turkish committees.
With the recent murders in Kumanovo, some 20 in 10 days alone, it is more than obvious that the gangs of bandits aim at exterminating the Christian population, as most of those killed had been found with their money and belongings on."
The Bulgarian trade agent in Edirne informs the Principality's Diplomatic Representative in Istanbul Grigor Nachovich on March 1, 1905, about new successive arrests of Bulgarians in the vilayet:
"I have the honor to inform you that on February 20 and 23, 60 detainees from Orta Koy were brought to Edirne, 41 from Comotini, and 30 from Alexandroupolis, or a total of 131. According to my information, the prisons in Comotini, Alexandroupolis and Orta Koy are still crowded to the capacity with Bulgarians. The total of the detainees in those prisons is impossible to tell for the reason that more and more are brought in, while others are released. Anyway, their number is times higher than the one I had the honor to report under the above outgoing number. In these three districts there are almost no Bulgarians who have not been imprisoned or suffered everything the detainees go through. All houses have been looted to some extent or another, and Manastir village in the Comotini region has been totally plundered by soldiers and Turks from the neighboring village Mekhrikus. All of those not detained yet, have fled into the woods for fear of soldiers and they go home only in case the soldiers leave the village. Soldiers are using excessive violence in the villages. In the prison of Comotini the guards pissed in the kamelaukion of the priest from Sachanli village, Iliya, pulling off his trousers to taunt him. The priest from Manastir village, Father Ivan, has been subject to the same humiliations. While transported under guard, the two priests, shackled in chains have been taken to the railway station by a cart full of dung."
On March 25, 1905, The Annunciation, the Day of Greece's Liberation, the village of Zagorichane, Kostur region, has been devastated and its villagers massacred; the village was believed to be among the richest in the region as the men were working in Istanbul, Edirne and Cairo. Until the uprisings on Saint Elijah's Day and Transfiguration in 1903, when it was also hit heavily, Zagorichane boasted over 600 wonderful two-story houses. On the said date it was stricken out of the blue by a gang of Greek Andarts, who set it ablaze and killed 62. This evil deed, unlike many other such cases, was brought to public knowledge thanks to a survey conducted by the European committee, set up as a result of the efforts of the Bulgarian Atanas Kokov from Bobishta village, region of Kostur, who, risking his life, went to Bitola and succeeded in meeting the Bulgarian trade agent A. Toshev and telling him of the events in Zagorichane. Mr. Toshev immediately sent a circular note to the representatives of the Great Powers seated in Bitola, recounting the story.
On receiving the note, the representatives of Austria and Russia immediately showed up at the vali's, requiring detailed information of the developments. At the urgent request of the two foreign representatives, the vali, who was explicit he knew nothing at all, asked the eyewitness to be brought in. Bulgarian Atanas Kokov told once again everything in the presence of the consuls and the vali. On the next day, the two consuls themselves set off for Zagorichane. Until nightfall they with their interpreters interviewed the families of all the 62 killed and 6 wounded Bulgarians. Most pathetic was the sight of killed men and women displayed in the church yard.
have never witnessed such atrocities to this day." Greek Andarts, perpetrators of that crime among many others, were predominantly Cretans, who came to Macedonia with the watchword: All That Is Bulgarian to Be Wiped Out'."
Greek Andarts sneaked into the Bulgarian village of Zeleniche and callously murdered celebrating and unsuspecting guests at a wedding. Those same Andarts captured in the mountains villagers who went there for firewood, tied them up in a line and slew them with axes.
In a report to the Bulgarian Consul in Istanbul of April 5, 1905, Bulgarian trade agent in Skopje shared his concern over the fact that for some time Bulgarian population in the region of Gostivar was troubled by the unceasing "murders, pillages, fires and outrages of Albanian gangs of bandits across the Christian villages" there. Irregardless of the numerous complaints filed by those affected, the authorities took no actions to tackle the crimes and in many places the evil deeds were fastened on Bulgarians themselves with the latter triggering yet further persecutions and imprisonments. Recently, the sheikh of the Muslim tekke, located nearby the village of Vrutok, Gostivar region, aspired to expropriate the Bulgarian graveyard, near his house. The villagers opposed which triggered persecutions against them.
In the report received by Nachovich from the Bulgarian agent in Serres of May 19, 1905, a case was recounted with officers forcing the soldiers to fire at peaceful Bulgarian villagers for no apparent reason or even any sign of disobedience.
"In the region of Serres it is noticed and already stated that soldiers fire at and kill peaceful farmhands and shepherds with no apparent reason by the order of their officers. A stunning fact was reported: on 15th this month, in the vicinities of the village of Kurchevo, Preslop locality, Demirhissar district, villager from Kurchevo, Delyu Delchev was peacefully shepherding, when Binbasi Halidaa and many soldiers stood in his way. The binbasi immediately commanded his men to detain him and start battering him. After that he commanded them to stab him with their bayonets, until the poor shepherd passed away. In order to cover their awful crime, the binbasi commanded the soldiers to drag the body of Delyu Delchev to the steep slopes and throw it in a ravine and bury it under stones."
The trade agent from Skopje sent also a report on June 15 to Bulgaria's Prime Minister Racho Petrov to inform of the stepped up assaults and murders of Bulgarians in Tetovo region, committed by Albanian and Turkish gangs.
"Esteemed Minister, the recent activities of Turkish patriotic committees gather momentum. It is especially noticeable in the district of Tetovo. The murders and pillages committed there by Albanian and Turkish gangs do not look like being sporadic and without any logical connections, quite the contrary, they show all the signs of an implemented programme of extermination on the part of the aforementioned Turkish committee. Their men become more and more insolent with every passing day committing all their crimes, sure that their impunity is secured, as they are aware that they are carrying out the orders of high-positioned Turkish and Albanian beys. In this line, the most notorious one is Alii Bey from Tetovo. His men have been perpetrating series of murders and pillages, without being held accountable by the authorities."
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Racho Petrov received from the trade agent in Bitola a letter of July 18, 1905, informing of the intensifying anti-Bulgarian mindsets among the Turkish population, supported by the authorities, especially in those regions where the international control was either inefficient or not available:
While the rivalry between different propagandas is gaining momentum with every passing day, local Turks, led by the authorities, are letting their evil instincts loose. It shows mostly in those parts of Macedonia, where the reforms did not spread, i.e. where even illusionary international control, tangible in the reformed regions is not available. In Debar, for example, Turks evil-doers, whose profession is gangsterism and killing, are believed to be heroes rather than being prosecuted by the authorities - a fact that even further intensifies anyway militant Turkish fanaticism. Yesterday two Bulgarians from Debarani presented themselves to me, who reported the facts stated below, which facts prove the worthiness of the above said."
Yet another letter sent from Bitola on July 28, to Bulgaria's prime minister informs the latter that apart from the Serbian gangs, several Albanian-Turkish gangs prowl about the region of Kitchevo, killing and doing harm to the population with perfect impunity. Such a gang of 20 surrounded the village of Svetorechi in end-June. Four gangers sneaked into the village, killing a Bulgarian, Kitan Mitsov and wounding another one, Yakim Prodromov. Villagers succeeded in organizing their defense and the assaulters retreated.
A report of August 22, 1905, by the manager of the agency, seated in Bitola, to Prime Minister Racho Petrov is indicative of the fact that among the military units, perpetrators of crimes against the peaceful Bulgarian nationals there were also Greeks in Turkish uniforms who are assumed to be Greek Andarts.
"On 5th inst, a military squad headed for the village of Rakovo, Bitola region, chased away all the villagers, men, women and children, who were working in the fields and those captured were tortured inhumanely. Most cruelly were battered Ivanche Boichev, a field-keeper and Riste Traichev. The two of them are here now with their heads smashed. Riste had been dragged to the Turkish village of Ukleshtina, in many places he almost got killed, yet he succeeded in escaping as late as night. On the way he noticed that many of the soldiers talked in Greek, which is indicative that the squad was mixed - soldiers and Greek gangsters."
In early September, Bitola-based trade agent filed two more reports to Bulgaria's prime minister on the unceasing atrocities and murders of Bulgarians committed by Greek gangs and Turkish soldiers in Bitola district:
"As if the numerous Turkish and Greek gangs prowl about every nook and corner of the vilayet perpetrating unseen acts of violence against entire Bulgarian villages under the protection of the authorities, the report of September 7th, 1905 reads, are not making things worse, recently such deeds seem to be made the duty of the regular soldiers as well. For example, on 1st inst, three soldiers on their way from Bitola met the mayor of Kukurechani village, Riste Kitev, who was coming back from Bitola. Without any reason the soldiers captured Riste, brought him to the village of Kurklino, beating him almost to death and imprisoned him in the school building. The same soldiers, on leaving the village of Kurklino, came to meet another poor villager, Petre Troichev from Tsurno Buki village, driving a cart full of roof-tiles. The latter was also captured for no reason at all, apparently for the mere fact of being a Bulgarian, beaten almost to death and left in the middle of the road."
The tally of acts of violence against Bulgarians is kept in a report of September 9 of the same year:
"Murders committed by Turks multiplied. On 2nd inst, Turks killed Bulgarians Zmeiko Tsvetkov from Koshino village and Boshe Gilev from Novoseliani village, district of Prilep. Both of them were among the smartest Bulgarian patriots, which was the reason for the murder. The act was perpetrated by Turks, bribed by the Greek committee; hearsay blames the killings on the Serb propaganda. Killers are known but it is a common practice such criminals not to be prosecuted by the authorities."
Grigor Nachovich received a report of November 12, 1905, from Thessalonica, in which report the Bulgarian trade agent informs him of the escalation of tension and fears of the Bulgarians due to the spread rumors of pending slaughter:
"We have the honor to inform you that for two or three days now, disturbing rumors have been spread of massacres, believed to be planned to start in Macedonian hinterland, of meetings of Turks and night sermons delivered by imams at the mosques, etc. In the meanwhile information was received from the district of Stip that 17 Bulgarians had been killed by Turks in the outskirts of the town in a day alone, and that in Negotino, district of Tikves, two Bulgarian teachers have been killed and in the same district on the same day - a dozen of villagers had been murdered. On the same day, Mr. Grevs, the British Consul in Thessalonica, received a letter from a British citizen, Carlo who owns a farm on the borderline of the Stip and Tikves districts and a factory in the small town of Negotino, informing the consul that the Turks in those places were very agitated and in two or three days alone Turks committed some hundred murders without any of the perpetrators being captured, that the two Bulgarian teachers were killed before his eyes in Negotino and that he found the situation very unsafe, asking his interests to be protected if need be. Mr. Grevs immediately paid a visit to Hilmi Pasha, informed the latter of the developments, requiring protection for his subject. Hilmi Pasha said in answer he knew nothing of any serious incidents in the region of Stip..."
Enclosed in a letter of November 15, 1905, the Principality's trade agent in Thessalonica sent to the prime minister a petition filed by the Bulgarians from two villages in Tikves district to the Chief Inspector in Thessalonica, Hilmi Pasha with a copy to the representatives of the Great Powers in the city.
Filed to Chief Inspector Hilmi Pasha, Civil Agents and Consuls based in Thessalonica
by the mayors of Kavadartsi, Negotino, Vatesha, Galichnik, Marena and Purzhevo, Tikves dustrict
The undersigned mayors and councilors of Kavadartsi and Purzhevo, Tikves District, standing proxy for the Christian Bulgarian population in the abovemen-tioned villages, have the honour to report to Your Excellency on the gory drama of the Christian people, taking place here.
On September 16th, 1905 at 2:00 a.m. young man Alexander Mishev, born in Kavadartsi, was heavily wounded with a pistol in his shop by two unknown Turks. The murderers escaped though the authorities had the chance to capture them as at the same time soldiers were standing and laughing across from the shop. The authorities were immediately informed of the incident; however they not only did nothing, but Chief Police Officer Hussein Effendi told the wounded man that the assault was committed by mistake, as the killers searched to murder his brother, Lazar Meshe... (signatures)."
Complaints of Bulgarians from Tikves district, exposed to acts of violence committed by Turkish squads are enclosed also in the report by the Thessalonica-based agent to Grigor Nachovich in Istanbul, sent on November 24 of the same year:
"Villages in Tikves district go on lodging complaints against tortures and atrocities committed by soldiers and Turkish gangs. The day before yesterday, ten men from Borovo village, Tikves district, arrived in Thessalonica to complain to Hilmi Pasha and the civil agents. There were three people among them bruised all over their bodies, as they were tortured and beaten by soldiers. The villagers were received and certified by Officers Poltanov and Simitior... Their names are: Lazo Petrov, Yordan Nedev and Kamche Ponov. They left behind in their village five other men who were bed-ridden due to their wounds and injuries from the beating. Their names are: Dine Nikolov, Hristo Stoyanchev, Ilyo Hristov, Kotso Hristov and Enaki Pavlov. All have been beaten by the soldiers who searched the villages thrice. During the second search a villager was killed and the notables went to Kavadartsi to lodge a complaint. After that the soldiers came to the village for a third time on November 20th, to once again torture the villagers, reiterating: Let Russian officers come to your rescue... "
In end-1905, the Principality's trade agent in Thessalonica sent a new in a row list of the killed Bulgarians in the Veles district in the recent five months August 15th - December 28th, 1905:
Ando Todev, born in Veles town, killed by Turks on August 27th daytime on the road to Lushitsa village;
Toto Karov, born in Veles town, killed by Turks on August 27th, on the road to Lushitsa village;
Dime Ivanov, born in Vitantsi village, killed by five Turks on August 29th at nightfall;
Traiko Yankov, born in Vitantsi village, killed by five Turks on August 29th at nightfall;
Father Gr. Lazarov, born in Bechishta village, Tetovo district, killed by two soldiers on September 3rd near Gradika village;
Ivan Panev, born in Elovets village, died from fatal injuries, inflicted on him by bashi-bazouk on September 6th daytime in Veles town;
Tsane Stoikov, born in Nechaevtsi village, gone missing on September 8th;
Alexo Ivanov, born in Dolno Rakovets village, killed by two Turks on September 10th out of the village;
Alexo Davchev, born in Dolno Rakovets village, killed by two Turks on September 10th out of the village;
Peter Yanov, born in Dryanovo village, killed by Turks on September 10th in the Burdoto locality;
Pano Petrov, born in Izvor village, killed on September 12th at nightfall at the Old Water-Mill;
Orde Mitsev, born in Vitanovo village, killed on September 12th at nightfall at the Old Water-Mill;
Peno Arsov, born in Podles village, died from his injuries inflicted on him on September 12th by Abde Atim;
Ile Panov born in Sgoropaltsi village, killed by Ali Ада on September 18th out of the village;
Georgi Velianov, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on September 13th daytime;
Petre Georgiev, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on September 13th;
Marko Spasov, born in Veles, killed by three Turks on September 16th daytime between Otovitsa and Dugan villages;
Petro Sazarov from Voden town, killed on September 28th;
Ordo Stoyanoc from Rashani village, killed by Kasir Kurtis on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Mite Angelov from Rashani village, killed by Kasir Kurtis on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Lazo Netsov, killed on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Father Zafir Proikov, born in Omorani village, killed on October 31st;
Tevo, son of Father Zafir Proikov, killed on October 31st;
Pano Damev, born in Omorani village, killed on October 31th;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Olche Lazarov, born in Gorno Chibevo village, killed by two Turks on November 22nd daytime, in the Kamik locality;
Anasto Nikolov, born in Selb village, killed by Bekir Umer on October 26th, in the Lozla Vodsa locality;
Lazo Pavlev, born in Seleniani village, killed by Turks on November 2nd, in the Ballar locality;
Milan Tsukov, born in Rashtani village, killed by Turks on November 3rd, In the Bazhdaritsa locality;
Ivan Ilev, born in Kriva Krusha village, killed by four Turks on November 3rd at the water-mill owned by Khamza Effendi in Elovets village;
Andrei Stoyanov, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on November 11th daytime in the village;
Mite Rostov, born in Selb village, by two Albanians on November 12th, in the Strazha locality;
Pano Angelov, born in Rashtani village, killed by soldiers and bashi-bazouk on November 13th daytime;
Father Dan. Angelov, born in Teovo village, killed by a Serbian gang on November 13th;
Pano Dimov, born in Rashtani village, killed by Ali Asan and Deli Bekir on November 14th;
Pavle Deianov, born in Svekiani village, killed by Turks on November 15th daytime, while ploughing his field;
Andrei Petrunev, born in Lisitche village, killed by Turks on November 16th;
Dolcho Temelkov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by a Serbian gang on December 1st daytime;
Ando Temelkov, born in Omorani village, killed by four Turks on December 2nd, while tilling his field;
Nicola Angelov, born in Sopot village, killed by Albanians on December 2nd out of the village;
Anastas Dimov, born in Dolno Orizari village, killed by Hussein from the same village on December 5th;
Ande Dimov, born in Dolno Orizari village, killed by Hussein from the same village on December 5th;
Ivan Panov, born in Hurlevtsi village, killed by Turks on December 7th daytime, out of the village;
Sazdo Stoikov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at night at home;
Ando Tashov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at nightfall;
Bogdan Aitov from Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at nightfall;
Stefko Yankov, born in Golozintsa village, killed by Turks on December 11th, in Novo Selo;
Orde Yankov from Golozintsa village, killed by Turks on December 11th, in Novo Selo;
Orde Angelov, born in Martoltsi village, killed on December 15th In the Ruen locality;
Ando Bochev, born in Novo Selo village, killed by three Turks on December 28th daytime in the outskirts of the village;
A. Stoyanov, born in Novo Selo village, killed by three Turks on December 28th daytime in the outskirts of the village.
Each of the five Bulgarian trade agencies based in the European part of Turkey in the towns of Edirne, Thessalonica, Serres, Bitola and Skopje, including Bulgaria's diplomatic mission in Istanbul were, on a regular basis, making reports on the acts of violence and murders committed against Bulgarians in the respective regions, forwarding the reports to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations in Sofia. Tallies were kept only of those of the cases on which Bulgarian representative succeeded in gathering dependable information. Many of the cases failed to be reported by the diplomatic representatives as the authorities meticulously covered up such cases, and the victims could not brace themselves up to lodge complaints or testify about committed murders, as violators used to punish harshly for such displays of courage. So, the ultimate number of murdered Bulgarians in Macedonia or Eastern Thrace is much larger than the figures in the regular reports of the diplomats.
The tallies were shaped as information of the Systematic Extermination of Bulgarian Population in the Vilayets. The name of the column perfectly mirrors the plight of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the years following the signing of the Bulgarian-Turkish Agreement of 1904, projected to normalize
and secure the lives and property of the Christian population in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the presence of European observers and representatives of the countries reformers.
In such a roundup, based on the reports of Bulgarian trade and diplomatic representatives on the killed Bulgarian civilians in Macedonia in the period 1904-1905 and the first half of 1907, 1,960 victims were reported, of which dependable and verified information had been gathered. Of them, 1,736 were men, 117 women and 107 children. A statistical report was made on the nationality of the perpetrators of the murders:
- 737 were killed by Turkish and Albanian bands;
- 296 were killed by regular Turkish troops;
- 848 were killed by Greek Andarts;
- 79 by Serbian gangs.
The report sent by Bulgarian trade agent in Skopje, Todor Nedkov of January 8, 1906, to the Principality's diplomatic agent in Istanbul, Grigor Nachovich tells the same story:
"Mass arrests of Bulgarians, made by the authorities under absolutely unreasonable pretexts, are going on. Many people are taken from their work places and therefore many houses are closed. Brutality and unlawfulness, which Turkish administration proves unable to shake off, have reached their highest point in the persecutions against Bulgarians.
A denunciation or libel made or committed by a venal person and even a mere suspicion suffice to imprison masses of innocent people and disrupt the living of a number of households.
After the incident in Palanec, where authorities detained some 40 villagers on the evidence of a spy alone, Franco Beskir and after the emergency court, despite their good will, could not sentence them, followed the Veles case on which thirty Bulgarians - merchants and notables are imprisoned. And now there is yet another case similar to the former one, on which local authorities have detained thirty people. A Petre Stoyanov from Prilep town, who had been acting for a year or so now with the Bulgarian detachments, walked out of the detachment for differences with his mates, pronounced himself a Serbian national and surrendered to the guard in the village of Liubantsi, Skopje district, naming a number of villagers and citizens, with whom he contacted in his capacity of a rebel.
As a result, authorities detained on December 30th last and brought here these Bulgarians: Ivancho Buchvarov, Todor Nikolov, Petso Stankov, Stoilko Tefkov, Atso Spasov, Nedelko, Bozhin Christov. Mayor of the village, teacher Dimo Gavov, Tsvetko Petrov, Netso Traikov, Stefko Mekhandjiata, Krustiu Popov, Stanko Mitrev, Tsvetko Atsev, Spaso Stoyanov, Milosh Velkov, Georgi Pavlev, Mitsi Stoyanov, Lavo Velkov, Yovan Velkov, Georgi Tsvetin and Ando Kikerkov from Liubantsi village, Veliko Stoyanov and his son Phillip from the village of Chereshovo, the same district, Yane Zhizhov - a wealthy farmer, Bulgarian from Drachevo, the same district, and his brother Todor, both of them residing in the town, Anastas Yakimov, teacher in local primary schools, Pando Kondurdjiata from the town and Panko Georgieva and Panko Krustev from the village of Dolno Sulne, Skopje district.
At the inquiry conducted the day before yesterday, 11 people from Liubantsi village were admitted. The investigation in the cases of the rest of the detainees is ongoing. Some of the detainees have already been indicted under Article 58 of the Ottoman Penal Code.
Informing the consuls of the Reforming countries of the incident, I focused their attention on the promiscuous detention of a number of people, who even if not trialed, are taken from their jobs and entire households are left in despair. The abovemen-tioned consuls promised to confer with the Vali about the matter."
The involvement of the authorities in the acts of violence against Bulgarian population is confirmed also by the mayors and councilors from 15 villages in Demirhissar region who visited the Bitola-based Bulgarian agent to tell him about the hardships and harassment exerted on them by bashi-bazouk and the authorities.
"The mayors and councilors from Demirhissar region: Brezovo, Sar, Gorno Tsursko and Dolno Tsursko, Goliamo Ilino and Malko Ilino, Sopotnitsa, Pusta Reka, Gorno Diviadi and Dolno Diviadi, Babino, Bezdernik, Zashle and Prostrani, who arrived here several days ago, said that the bodies of the administrative and military authorities were committing monstrous atrocities in their region. First of all, villagers complain of the criminal attitude towards them on the part of tax-collectors Sukria Effendi, also from Bitola and sipahi Ahmed Suleiman Nalbantin from Bitola. Those representatives of public power went to perform their duty in the villages always escorted by ten to fifteen soldiers and several bashi-bazouks. Apart from eating and drinking for several days in a row for free, they and the soldiers escorting them refused to issue any receipts, so some of the taxes have been collected several times each.
The neighbors from Turkish villages hunt on a regular basis in their forests, often escorted by soldiers. In such cases nobody dares to leave the village, as those captured by the hunters outside the bounds of the village, are beaten and raped. Soldiers in their turn under the pretext of the shooting by the hunters search the village to find reasons to incriminate the men in rebel activities and harboring rebels..."
The news, broken in the reports below by Bulgarian trade agent in Bitola, Zh. Dobrev discloses the ties between the authorities and the Greek, Serbian, Albanian and Turkish gangs, murdering and busting the Bulgarians in the vilayet.
"Apart from the Greek and Serbian gangs, who recently crowded the vilayet to the capacity, purely Turkish terrorist bands showed up, formed to exterminate Bulgarian population. They are said to be secretly formed by the government itself.
To this day, three such gangs are operating in Kostur district of ten to twelve militants each. The first gang is led by Selu and Oran from the village of Zaburdeni and the second by Osman Ада from Dragichevo village. I failed to learn the name of the leader of the third one.
The gangs prowl about the roads and set ambushes for Bulgarians on those roads. On February 20th last, they killed Bulgarian Georgiu from Galitsa village, when the latter was returning from the fields. On February 27th, they killed from ambush Bulgarian Manol Petrovski from the village of Doleni. The latter was coming home from the market in Hrupishta. According to locals, the Turkish gangs, formed and patronized by the authorities, were even worse than the Andarts, who could not boast their bravery."
The report of Bitola-based trade agent of April 6th, 1906 to the Bulgarian Minister of Domestic Affairs, Dimiter Petkov, acting Foreign Minister, also informs of atrocities committed against Bulgarians in the region of Kostur:
The situation of the Bulgarians in the region of Kostur is further deteriorating. The atrocities committed recently by Greek gangs have terrorized Bulgarian villagers to such an extent that the latter live in fear not to be assaulted and slain and their houses plundered. On their part, troops escorted by bashi-bazouk prowl about the villages, searching houses and doing harm... "
Months later the reports by the manager of the Edirne-based Bulgarian agency, G. Stoev to Nachovich broke further scaring pieces of news about the situation of the Bulgarians in Eastern Thrace:
"Mr. Agent, he wrote to Nachovich in Istanbul on May 5th of the same year, very worrying news are received from the region of Orta Koy. Recently, the situation in that district has become critical. Persecutions and arrests were resumed in line with the detachments led by Aranaudov and Nikolov. Many of the villagers were scared into fleeing at the sight of the tortures inflicted on those detained earlier. According to the information received, on 24th last month alone, when the persecutions started, a woman, Yana Angelinina and 29 men from Gokce Bunar fled the village as well as 7 men form Dolno Suvanli village and two women and five men from Gokce Bunar were arrested: Pauna Vulkova, Fota Pashova, Ivan Yankov, Dimiter Grozdev, Dacho Stoyanov, Apostol Kolev and Yanko Atanasov. All of those who fled their villages have been searched for to be arrested. Wife of 90-year-old fugitive Slavil Petrov from Dolno Suvanli village was also detained in the prison in Orta Koy, but she was released two days later. Yana Angelinina, whose husband Dimiter Slavilov was detained earlier, had abandoned her one-year-old infant to God's mercy and no one is aware either of her whereabouts or of what happened to her. The kaymakam (district governor) and Gendarmerie Officer Said Effendi threatened the mayors that in case the latter fail to bring all the fugitives in time, the former would deploy troopers to bust the villages. The two also forced the mayors to evict the families of the fugitives and seal off their houses.
Apart from the infantry already deployed in Orta Koy district, 150 cavalrymen were sent from Edirne to those places. You see, Mr. Agent, that instead of calming down the people, instead of appeasing the country, the authorities are insane to an extent to cause even further disasters. All the disturbances up to now, devastating to the population of the Empire, have started in the same way we witness now in Orta Koy.
Promiscuous mass arrests, beating, tortures, threats uttered at the disclosure of a detachment forced the innocent to flee and join a detachment or form a new one. Search parties, assigned to find the fugitives have triggered the flights of more and more people, increasing both the strength and the number of the detachments, avalanching to the dimensions and scale of an uprising, for the crush of which a whole poor region has been turned into ashes and cemeteries.
In my opinion, the situation in Orta Koy is the same. The devastations are not expected to be contained within the borders of that district alone. The population in Dimotika, Soflou, Alexandroupolis, Comotini and Smolian is persecuted and scared to the same extent as the people in the Orta Koy region are, the detachments led by Aranaudov and Nikolov have operated there either, the situation there is the same as the one in Orta Koy. Be it even different, the chasing of the fugitives in the region of Orta Koy would lead the search parties into those districts, from where new fugitives would form new detachments. Anyway, we are on the eve of witnessing the busting of this relatively intact to this day region, if nothing be done as soon as possible, to put an end to the new persecutions.
I deem it most reasonable to take actions to talk the fugitives into surrendering in order to improve the situation. According to the information, those are willing to do so if guaranteed that they would be brought straight to Edirne, without being tortured and if promised to be trialed promptly and justly. The fugitives were certain of their own innocence and harbored no doubts that an unbiased court of law would acquit them. I voiced my fears of the risks posed by the situation here before the consuls of the Great Powers and they shared the opinion that authorities fuel the tension and that we were on the brink of a catastrophe.
The Austrian consul said that at the very beginning of the case as early as the first arrests, he informed his Ambassador in this line and that he would approach him once again. The British consul asked me one-to-one what he himself could do, when the two reformist countries happened to defend Turkey. The French consul held the opinion that as concerning the problems of the vilayet, the consuls were so positioned that they were not big wheels and their intervention without being sanctioned by the embassies would rather harm than prove helpful as he had witnessed such developments on more than one occasion. Only positive instructions by the Ambassadors, to rely on, could render their (of the consuls, S.R.) intervention helpful. That be the case, the consuls could be sure they would not be cheated on and that the things they would promise the fugitives, would be fulfilled. "Control exerted by the consuls rather than intercession and vindication are what we need here, and that could only be decided by the Embassies. Otherwise, we would become the reason for the fugitives to run their heads into the lion's mouth, without being able to rescue them, even worse, our intervention could only worsen their situation," the French consul concluded. It was only the Russian consul who initially decided that something could be done without awaiting instructions from Istanbul and asked me to keep his intention in secret, until he investigated into and thought over the case for fears that some of his colleagues would inevitably intrigue so that to foil his attempts. However, this morning he told me that the step he had to make was a paramount one and fraught with ramifications, therefore he assumed the opinion of the French consul and that he was writing to the Russian Embassy in Istanbul in the sense that he had to be assigned to visit Orta Koy and from there to send the fugitives a message that he was guaranteeing them all their conditions to be met after they surrender and they to be trialed under his control. He French consul is to write a letter to this effect too. As far as I know, the other consuls wrote almost the same.
Mr. Agent, during the persecutions, started by Turkish authorities against the Bulgarians and everything Bulgarian in the Edirne Vilayet, only through direct control exerted by the consuls of the Great Powers something Bulgarian could survive here. We are chased in every way and in every line, both with or without reasons, and pretexts are being forged where there are no pretexts at all."
Employee at the Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agency, Y. Peev sent a letter to the Principality's diplomatic agent in Istanbul on May 17th, 1906 enclosing a copy of a collective complaint lodged by the villagers from Vatosha village, Tikves region containing descriptions of the evil deeds they suffered from the Turks.
"As you would have the kindness to see, Peev states, almost every day murders of scared to death villagers are committed. Murders are perpetrated in broad daylight before the eyes of the authorities. On June 28th, two Turks from Disan village, shot dead without any reason teacher Ivan P. Antov and student Milan P. Kotsev in the coffee shop in the centre of the village. One of the killers, Ahmed Saliev was captured by chance, while the other whose name I happen to know, succeeded in escaping. The father of murdered Milan P. Kotsev visited the Agency the day before yesterday with several villagers from Vatosha and on my advice they filed complaints in writing, similar to the enclosed one against the civil agents and Hilmi Pasha. I sent them also to General Schostok and Mr. Para and Mr. Kohmanski to lodge a copy of their petition and tell them about their hardships."
By villagers from Vatosha village, Tikves district
To Mr. Trade Agent of the Principality in Thessalonica
More and more vicious murders are committed in our region every day. The day before yesterday, Wednesday, 28th, two new victims fell, our fellow-villagers Ivan P. Antov, a teacher and Milan P. Kotsev, student at the Thessalonian Turkish High School. They were murdered in the coffee shop run by Milan in the center of the village. Our fellow-villagers, Eftim Rostov and Eftim Popov who were there at the time, saw the killers, and our fellow-villager Gelio Boyanchishki happened to know one of them, Turk Ahmed from Disan village. The authorities in Kavadartsi listened to our complaints, but contained themselves to only building vain hopes as always.
Turkish gangs prowl around our district. Our villagers find it almost impossible to leave their homes. The crop is left not harvested in the fields. Markets have almost closed down. We are not able to either sell or buy.
It is enough to list the 29 cases of vicious murders committed here in the period since November last alone for you to grasp the horrible plight we face.
We ask you, Mr. Agent, to exercise your influence where need be, so that the perpetrators of the murders of our fellow-villagers Ivan P. Antov and Milan P. Kotsev to be captured and punished and an end to be put to this awful situation.
In our capacity of proxies of our village Vatosha, we lodge this complaint.
Villagers from Vatosha, Tikves district
Dimo Nedev, Hristo Mishev, Hristo Iliev, Lazo Tanev
Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agent also tells in his letter of June 17th, 1906 to the prime minister about gangs prowling about the vilayet with perfect impunity, terrorizing the peaceful Bulgarians, encouraged to do so by the authorities:
"Esteemed Minister, despite the large number of troops across the country and the reportedly modernly organized gendarmerie, reformists are so proud of, along with the ranging Greek gangs, numerous Turkish bands with impunity and often in cooperation with the troops themselves plunder and bring to ruin peaceful Bulgarian population.
Friday last, 9th inst. a gang of 30 to 35 bandits, both Albanians and Turks, penetrated the village of Spatovo, Melnik district, and surrounded the house of wealthy Bulgarian Mita Germanov to infantry it. When several bandits sneaked into the house, the son of Mita, Nicola fired with his pistol to warn the neighbors to come to his family's rescue but was immediately shot dead by the assaulters. The maddened bandits raided the house and killed in a most cruel manner Mita Germanov himself, his wife and their 25-year-old daughter Zlata, the wife of earlier murdered Nicola, as well as three maidens from the village of Gornia Sushitsa, Melnik district, Vangelia, Velika and Maria, all of the three aged 18, who happened to be in the house at the time. Three other girls from the same village, three of Nicola's kids, Georgi Dinkov, Mita's son-in-law, as well as master Veliu from the village of Levunovo, Melnik district, survived, as they succeeded to run out of the house..."
On June 17, 1906, Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agent drafted and sent one after another three reports to Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Denominations, Racho Petrov.
"Apart from the recent complaints lodged to the civil agents and Hilmi Pasha by villagers from the vilayet, reads the first of the reports, one could come to a bit strange conclusion that the population is suffering more often than not from the violence of the Turkish troops, than the evil deeds of the Greek and Turkish gangs, the troopers are supposed to protect the people from.
Bulgarian population in the region of Voden is mostly exposed to the army harassment. Villagers from Guyovo, Voden district, have lodged a new in a row complaint on 6th inst. to the civil agents, a copy of which you'll find enclosed herein. The complaint states a number of unpunished murders and cases of busting, committed by the soldiers deployed there.
It is a common practice for the soldiers to live at the expense of the population and to confiscate every food staple available, such as chickens, eggs, white cheese, etc. They do not think twice when raping all girls or women they come across. This conduct of theirs has scared the people to the extent that they don't even dare to leave their houses and are seeing themselves forced to neglect their fieldworks in the heat of the farming season."
The report sent by Thessalonica-based trade agent sent on August 29th, 1906 to Prime Minister Racho Petrov, also testifies to the participation of regular troops in the acts of violence against the Bulgarians:
"It is no news that Bulgarian population in this poor country has always suffered and suffers mostly from the regular Turkish troops, who have evolved recently into a wild horde of savages, striking terror into the villagers. For that fear the latter have forsaken their fieldwork for quite a while now for woe to those who dare to go out into the fields all alone! Be it a man, he will for sure be shot dead and a woman runs the risk to be raped at the least."
On October 23, 1906, Bulgarian Exarch Joseph sent a confidential letter to the prime minister with enclosed therein an extensive letter to the Grand Vizier of October 17th, 1906, stating a number of facts about the "deplorable plight of the Bulgarian population across the vilayets that is being exterminated on a systematic basis", asking pressingly the Sublime Porte to take prompt and drastic measures so that "the persecutions and extermination of the loyal Bulgarian population to be stopped".
Over the recent decade I have been drawing the attention of the Imperial Government to the evils done to the loyal Bulgarian population in the vilayets by propagandas hostile to the populations Church and nationality. In a number of takrirs (documents in writing) I have underscored how booth the Greek and Serbian propagandas striving to perform their tasks, win over supporters at the expense of Bulgarian element, spreading their campaigns with impunity across villages and towns, disturbing, demoralizing and fragmenting the congregation of the Exarchate, evicting them from their churches, schools, graveyards and all municipal properties. I pleaded fervently all necessary to be done to stop the evil and to regard with respect Bulgarian nationality. Yet, unfortunately to me and my congregation, all my efforts were to no avail. As if it is not bad enough, that for over three decades now the ecumenical rights, granted to Bulgarian nationals as an individual community within the Empire by a Sultan's decree have been no more than a dead letter, but even those granted are nor regarded with respect and are lifted one by one for the sake of the propagandas.
The freshest is the example with the four Bulgarian metropolitans, whose rights are being questioned, though they have been granted berats (Sultan's decrees) in this respect. The Meclises are continuing to expel their vicars. Communal heads are not acknowledged, the issued by them takrirs are not admitted if not revenue-stamped, official communal seals in use for 3 decades now, are banned.
Bulgarian cases on ecumenical or educational matters are not being heard. Once dismissed, they are being re-ruled to the detriment of the Exarchists. After waiting for a long time to be allowed to make the vineyard bought out with the permission of the local authorities into a cemetery, Bulgarians from Comotini, for emergency need, buried there one of their dead. However, in a three days time the authorities exhumed the body and sent it to Kizlar village, the native place of the dead man, seven hours away from Comotini, to be buried there, while the Comotini chairman, hieromonachos Dionysius and Bulgarian notable Dimiter Kiriakov were fined one Turkish lira each and imprisoned for one month. In Kumanovo, in violence of an irade (Sultan's decree), the fence between the Bulgarian and Serbian parts of a cemetery was taken down and part of the Bulgarian cemetery was expropriated. In Tetovo, the old church, the school building and municipal immovables worth over ten thousand have been granted to the Serbian minority, and Bulgarians have been forced to receive mere 300 liras for their share; the church, despite the protests of the Bulgarians, was consecrated by the Serbian Bishop of Skopje under the protection of the kaymakam. Those facts are cited on the spur of the moment, though there are innumerable such facts.
Bulgarians are denied the granted to all the subjects of His Majesty and under the legislation freedoms of religion and conscience. They are not allowed to openly profess their nationality and freely recognize their spiritual heads.
A hundred of Bulgarian villages have their churches and schools closed as four years ago, those villages recognized the Exarchate under the reforms and freedoms proclaimed by our August Sovereign. The government ascribes their walk out of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate to violence and supports the principle of preserving the status quo. Yet, the persistence of ethnic Bulgarians in their decision, persistence unbroken for four years now despite the persecutions and the heavy sacrifices up to leaving their native places, is visual evidence that violence is out of the question in this case. The status quo principle is applied to Bulgarians alone in order to impede their joining their own Church and organizing a community of their own.
Greek and Serbian propagandas are allowed to freely invade and impose their will even in those villages and towns that have recognized the Exarchate as early as its establishment. The latest and most striking is the example of Prilep town. Though it is common knowledge that there is no Serbian living in the town, a Serbian chapel has been inaugurated there and consecrated in the presence of the authorities; on top of everything else a Serbian muhtar (churchwarden) was also appointed. While in Comotini, where there are 40 Bulgarian households, with Bulgarians being the majority as is the case in many other places, idare-meclisi refuses to be Bulgarian muhtar and the Bulgarian chapel has been closed for years now.
Those of the Bulgarian villages that have been coercively made by the Greek propaganda at the cost of striking terror to pass under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate are admitted at gorgeous ceremonies. Their closed to that time churches are being opened ceremonially in the presence of the mudurs (town governors), cavuses (sergeants), gendarmes and soldiers with the population of the neighbouring villages invited to attend the grand celebrations by the order of the Serbian metropolitans.
Recently, the clergy of the Patriarchate overstepped the limits in their persecutions against Bulgarians. Greek bishops such as those of Serres, Alexandroupolis, Dimotiki and Edirne, stage with impunity anti-Bulgarian rallies, veil the churches in black, deliver public speeches offensive to Bulgarians and threaten to anathemize all those who maintain any relations with Bulgarians. Not to mention the bishops such as the one of Kostur and that of Drama who have become notorious for their outrages.
Greek priests in the towns are leading door-to-door threatening campaigns, forcing Bulgarians to enroll their kids at Greek schools or otherwise they would be hanged as soon as possible. At Greek schools, pupils recite publicly lyrics fraught with hatred for Bulgarians, which lyrics are being composed at Greek embassies; Greek students stone Bulgarian schools, mud Bulgarian chapels and beat Bulgarian pupils. On the main streets of the vilayet centers, newspapers from Athens are freely sold, professing extermination of Bulgarians. Greek consuls themselves tour the coffee shops preaching anti-Bulgarian crusades. All this is not deemed by the government to be incitement to ethnic animosity between the two peoples, but is believed to be what a Bulgarian teacher on the Day of Isapostolic Brothers Cyril and Methodius called in his speech, a historical claim of the Greeks; three notes on the matter had been addressed to the Exarchate.
Your Highness, you are the most cognizant to get aware that arousing such tribal animosity and inflaming passions between the Empire's subjects means to fuel a wildfire, metaphorically put, inside the house of the State. I have been lodging takrirs of complaints against such Greek actions on more than one occasion.
The evil deeds never stopped, quite the contrary, smear campaigns gained momentum. They reached its highest point when armed militant squads of the propagandas appeared on the scene. By the way the armed Greek gangs set to kill Bulgarians are yet a new in a row edition of those of twenty five years ago.
One ear of each of the murdered is cut off to be shown as evidence to the Greek Committees for the bargained pay to be received. There is no district without five or ten or fifteen victims per month. Houses, barns, water-mills, sown fields and meadows are set ablaze, orchards, vineyards are plundered, household belongings, clothes and everything available is looted. Wealthy people are kidnapped for ransoms amounting to 20 to 50 or more Turkish liras. Common pastures are confiscated. In many places the population sits at home for fear of bandits and leaves the crop not harvested, dooming themselves to hunger. All kinds of business and trade relations have been brought to naught. Prior to the militant raids, threatening letters are delivered to warn the marked victims of what they would be doomed to if refusing to give up the Exarchate. Sometimes such letters are attached to the dead bodies of Bulgarians stabbed to death by the militants. It goes without saying that Greek bishops also point at villages, failing to recognize them, as being threatened by extermination. In this way entire villages are wiped off the face of the earth. It would suffice to mention the village of Zagorichane, Kostur region, that of Zeleniche, Lerin region, arid the one of Zhervi, Voden region. Entire villages with troops deployed there emigrated to avoid their certain death by gangs of bandits. I'd not pester Your Highness with the long list of takrirs I had been lodging to the Sublime Porte and the Ministry of Jurisdiction and Denominations against the outrages committed by Greek and Serbian gangs, therein enclosed copies of some of the threatening letters, I mentioned above, though the listed in those takrirs facts far from exhaust the cases. By the way, the enclosed herein list of signals to the Exarchate for the period August 24th - September 24th, i.e. a month time, is perfectly indicative of the plight of Bulgarians across the vilayets.
This plight, Your Highness, means only that the loyal Bulgarians in the vilayets are outlawed. They are being killed on a systematic basis at every step. In their despair, they seek salvation in partial or mass emigration either to different places within the Empire or abroad, leaving their villages and properties derelict. Some of the villages even resort to converting to the Uniates. Even though the plight resulted in forming armed squads from among the ethnic Bulgarians, the fact ought not to be blamed on them. We have underscored on more than one occasion that it is the duty and the right of the government to chase and liquidate such squads, yet it would be unjust to identify them with the loyal, peaceful, hard-working and productive population of a million and a half, which in this case has fallen victim to all militant squads as a whole. There are also Greek and Serbian squads, who are not treated in the same way.
Assuming to the full my duty to the State and the Church, I still can't help making vocal my protests against the intolerable situation of my congregation and asking urgently, with the cooperation of Your Highness prompt and drastic measures to be taken so that an end to be put to whatever persecutions, violence or extermination of the loyal Bulgarians and to secure them peaceful and free cultural development and economic prosperity under the scepter of His Majesty, our subject-loving Sovereign, respecting their rights and nationality. It is a demand of His August Monarch will, it is stipulated by the law and supposed by all God's and human rights. It is mostly to the advantage of the Empire...
Bulgarian Exarch Joseph"
In end-September 1906, Bulgarian Exarchate in Istanbul sent on a regular basis to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations information of the murders and outrages on the ethnic Bulgarians - "A list of the signals of the murders and outrages on Bulgarians, given to the Exarchate in the period August 22nd -September 24th" as follows:
"Extirpation of Bulgarian national spirit is encouraged to the full by Stephanos, Greek Bishop of Voden. He went via Thessalonica to Gumence to give his instructions in person. On September 17th he officiated at a mass in the church of Petrovo village. He was escorted by troops and Andarts. The authorities allow all those corrupt criminals to surround him. Armed with pistols and daggers they were walking ahead of the troops, proudly threatening to kill Bulgarians. The Bishop told them that he assumes the responsibility for them to set ablaze, slay or kill whatever or whomever on their whim. After his visit to Gumence, threatening letters signed "Captain G. Klapas" to the old villages under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate multiplied. The outrages on Bulgarians in the villages of Bozets, Orizurtsi and Golo Selo are ascribed to his inducement. Grubevtsi, Ramel, Livaditsa, Konikovo, etc. are waiting their own death any moment now by the gangs.
Greek gangs bribe Turks into killing Bulgarian notables and wealthy men in that region. For example, on August 30th, in the centre of Enige Mitse Pop Stavrev was shot dead from the yard of a tekke. On September 8th at nightfall, Vangel Bonev was killed in Vudrishta from an ambush set in a house across the road, most probably by the men from a bey's farm. The latter are committing awful crimes against ethnic Bulgarians and threaten to wipe off the face of the earth other prominent Bulgarians.
All the villages in Enige-Vardar district, the pillars of the district, are terror-stricken. Greek gangs, uncurbed and unmolested, are assaulting those villages and threatening with pogroms on more than one occasion. The village of Alare, being raided many times, found no other way but to emigrate to the last person to the Enige- Vardar - 18 households consisting of 26 families together with Father Traian Dimitrov. The village was mere 45 minutes away from the town and troops were deployed in it. The villagers from Ramel started emigrating to other villages. Theirs and other villages are soon to follow the example of Alare.
On September 23rd at night, a Greek gang of twelve bandits left the Greek school in Novo Selo, Thessalonica region, where Greek teacher Nicola from Petrovo village lived, and busted the shop run by Exarchist Sterio Stoyanov. At the time, there were a number of villagers in the shop, who had come shopping. The Andarts fired more than hundred times and wounded Exarchist Dimiter Petrov in his right leg. The villagers in the shop started firing back, so that the Andarts retreated and left the village. Yuzbasi (Police Captain) from Thessalonica, Zia EJfendi, conducted an inquiry. Eyewitnesses testified to the fact that the gang came from the Greek school. In line with the incident the Novo Selo villagers approached once again with a petition Chief Inspector, H.E. Hilmi Pasha, listing all the crimes committed over the last couple of years by Greeks against the Exarchic population in the village."
A number of the reports filed by Bulgarian trade agents based in Thessalonica, Edirne, Bitola, Skopje and Serres to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations in Sofia over those years broach the matter of the situation of those of the Bulgarians who were still kept in Turkish prisons despite the fact that it had been quite a while since an amnesty had been granted under the Bulgarian-Greek Agreement. The information in the reports is indicative of the fact that many of the imprisoned and trialed Bulgarians on the eve of the Uprising on St. Elijah's Day and immediately after the crush of the uprising have died in jail due to the poor life conditions, diseases and beating on their way to the Asian fortresses or while being transported from one prison to another.
To this effect is the report of end-September, 1906 by Bulgarian trade agent based in Bitola, Zh. Dobrev to the ministry on the plight of the Bulgarians, imprisoned in the central prison in the town:
"In the central prison of Bitola vilayet, over 300 Bulgarians are kept at present. Of them, hardly 15 do not need someone else's care. All the rest of them are very poor, they have left behind their households without any support and they themselves have not earned a dime since imprisoned.
Prisoners of other extractions, who taken together do not catch up in number two thirds of our compatriots are positioned in that respect in an unachievable for us superiority. First of all, their negligible number and secondly, the far more developed feeling for public solidarity in Greeks, Wallachians, etc. allow the latter to receive more often and heftier contributions in every respect, and particularly, in the cases of persecutions against prisoners for their national ideas. Those are the advantages over us of the foreign propagandas, taken to recruit supporters even in prisons.
In conditions, therefore, of total want of private contributions on the part of our compatriots here or for want of public cultivation or for penury, the need for government support here is felt desperately.
This time last year, due to my intercession once again, the Ministry was so kind to allot a temporary aid of 3,000 gold levs for distributing the sum among the prisoners. The good deed, though insufficient for such a number of people, is remembered and reminded of with appreciation by the beneficiaries.
Both for the purely physical support of those poor men and for the high profile of Bulgarian In the eyes of Bulgarians themselves and of the foreign nations here, it is worth, Esteemed Minister, and even indispensable to maintain this noble political tradition of the Principality's Government. For this reason I took the liberty to ask this year also for your benevolence to order at least the same amount to be allotted for the abovementioned purpose. I assure you that those 3,000 levs would dry up the tears of at least 3,000 our ill-fated brothers during the Christmas Holidays as along with each of the prisoners the amount would make happy dozens of their beloved.
In view of the severe winter and upcoming Christmas Holidays, the prompt allotting of contributions is more than pressing."
The Uprising on St. Elijah's Day embarrassed the then Greek government as much as it did the Turkish one. The Greeks deemed it to be a threat to the plans of Greek nationalists to hellenize Macedonia. Aware of the fact that in the wake of the crush of the uprising the Great Powers would search for political means to appease the Balkans, the then Greek government mounted and without delay started implementing an action programme in the Aegean part of Macedonia aiming at suspending Bulgarian liberation movement, to intimidate the population and create an impression in Europe that the Greek element is the most active in Macedonia.
In 1904, a Macedonian Committee was set up in Athens. Its major task was to fight, arms including, any national manifestation of the local ethnic Bulgarians. It formed armed squads and four Greek officers were assigned to become chieftains of those with Pavlos Melas among others. Later, the latter was pronounced Greece's national hero. A special operative center was established in Thessalonica from among officers from the Greek General Staff.
As early as the same year, the Macedonian committee sent the first Greek squad to the region of Bitola. The squad was defeated at Kostur. The squad was ordered to terrorize the local Bulgarians, to draw by any means Hellenephiles and create strong points for the new squads expected from Greece. All across Greece fund-raising campaigns were mounted. In early 1905 Greek government armed cap-a-pie and financed new squads, deploying them to Macedonia.
Even Greek Church through Metropolitan Germanos Karavangelis joined the campaign for the expansion of Hellenism in Macedonia. This spiritual pastor became notorious with his watchword: "Bulgarians Wiped Out". For example, he was informed of the pending carnage in Zagorichane village, Kostur region, in his eparchy, yet instead of averting the raid by perpetrator Vardas or warning his congregation, comprising "the worst Bulgarians" about the impending threat, he sent to the executors a list of his spies from the same village to protect them form being killed.
Pathetic is the doom of Zagorichane (Vassilias), the second largest village in the region of Kostur, plundered and busted as early as 1903, yet the biggest crime was committed there a couple of years later.
Apart from the diplomatic reports, written by Bulgarian trade agents and diplomatic representatives to Turkey, the outrages against Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace in the period are documented in a number of memoir books and documentary works, including the one by Ivan St. Nikolov, Atrocities Committed by Greek Gangs on Ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in 1905-1906 published in Plovdiv in 1906. At the time, the number of militants forming the Greek squads to terrorize the local Bulgarians went as high as 4,000, distributed in four centers: Kostur, Kozhan, Bitola and Greben.
"Endless is the tally of the martyrs who have died in brutal murders, or have been skinned alive or beaten in Macedonia for a year now, the author underscores. - All the villages and small towns deemed to be the strongholds of Bulgarian national spirit in this poor country, have been reduced to ashes and plundered, and most of the people have been slaughtered."
In Kostur region, apart from the notorious Zagorichane, the villages of Bezsvene, Kondorobo, Kosinets, Shishtevo, Mokreni, Prekopania, Ezerets, Enichani, Oshteni, Blatsa, Zhupanitsa, Olishta, Tchurilovo, etc. have been also busted. In the region of Lerin the villages of Zeleniche (37 people murdered), Vurbeni, Surevichevo, Aitos, liu-betino, Buh, Banitsa, Prele, etc. were also raided and most of the notables got killed. Almost the same occurred in the Bulgarian villages in the regions of Morihovo and Voden. The villages of Mogila, Tsursko, Aivazovo, etc. in Bitola district were almost devastated. The same applies to the villages in the region of Serres, and the villages of Brodi and Ziliahovo were not traceable. In the places, where Greek squads were impeded from assaulting, as was the case in the regions of Nevrokop, Bansko and Mehomia, the Turkish authorities themselves undertook the task. In the Edirne region, Bulgarian population was exposed to the deeds of Greek and Turkish gangs, tolerated by the government for political and strategic reasons in order to cleanse that part of Thrace of ethnic Bulgarians.
Precisely at the time, when Nikolov completed his book in 1906, news broke that the previous night the village of Smilevo was reduced to ashes and 65 of the villagers were killed. Similar incidents occurred in the villages of Gnilesh and Zhihovo. In Palanec region Serbian gangs showed up at the time to intimidate and expel the ethnic Bulgarians from those places.
In 1906 militant groups were formed in Thessalonica, under the command of Lieutenant Sumatis, to persecute and kill active functionaries of the Internal Macedonian and Edirne Revolutionary Organization.
Two banks of specific activity were also set up in Thessalonica to implement the programme of oppressing and expelling the ethnic Bulgarians. The first financed the bribery of Turkish officials and military for the latter to "support" the Greek "resistance" to "mutinying Bulgarians", and the second supported Greek merchants in Macedonia, defiantly boycotted by Bulgarians.
In early 1908, Greek government assigned the leadership of the Macedonian Battle operation to Col. Danglis, involving also the General Staff in it. Meanwhile volunteers were recruited from all across Greece to form new squads under the command of Greek officers and non-coms, terrorizing the population and killing Bulgarian notables.
Deployment in Macedonia of Serbian gangs to develop anti-Bulgarian activities was resumed as early as 1904. In 1905 the activities of the Serbian gangs became an element of the so-called armed propaganda, finding its expression in forcing Bulgarian notables and entire villages to give up the Exarchate and proclaim themselves Serbian nationals, as did the gangs of Greek Andarts. Apart from those two 'armed propagandas", ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the period between the Uprising on St. Elijah's Day and the Balkan War of 1912, had to suffer murders and pillages committed by Albanian and Turkish bands and to no lesser extent, violence from the regular Turkish troops, deployed in their villages to "protect" them.
The revolution of Young Turks in July 1908, which limited the powers of Sultan's institution, restored the Constitution suspended by Sultan Abdulhamid II and proclaimed equal right for all the nations within the Ottoman Empire, aroused some hopes among Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace for a short period. As for the Bulgarian and Christian population in the vilayets, the Young Turks continued the old imperial policy of denationalization. Narrow freedoms granted in the wake of the Young Turks' revolution to all Ottoman subjects stimulated to a great extent the entrepreneurship of ethnic Bulgarians and along with that, their national manifestations. Worried by the trend, Young Turks resumed the restrictive measure and persecutions first of all against Bulgarian intelligentsia. Bulgarian schools were closed; foreign propagandas were supported through easing the opening of foreign educational establishments in the places where the Bulgarian schools had been coercively closed. A special law to scarp the right on association was adopted, Bulgarian press was banned and Bulgarian constitutional clubs were disbanded for the reason that the latter were "nationalistic". Young Turks forced Bulgarians to join their parties and pronounce themselves Ottomans. A law banning revolutionary squads was adopted and punitive squads were deployed all across Macedonia to chase Bulgarian revolutionaries, to make mass searches and repress the population as supporters of the revolutionaries. Thus in a couple of years alone since the proclaiming of the Hurriyet (Liberation) of 1908, in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace the old anarchy and persecutions against all Bulgarians were resumed; in the campaign they once again relied on their old supporters - Greek and Serbian propaganda and gangs of bandits, comprising Turks, Albanians, etc. In their campaign against ethnic Bulgarians the new authorities were in even better situation, as the surveillance of foreign officers and direct international control were lifted. Troops started blockading Bulgarian villages without waiting for any pretexts to reportedly search for arms or harbored Bulgarian revolutionaries. Reports of that time show that in the new campaign in several months alone, 4,793 Bulgarians were beaten severely by the regular troops in the three Macedonian vilayets of Skopje, Bitola and Thessalonica; of them 74 died of their injuries. Some 2,000 emigrated to Bulgaria, leaving behind their native places. As much fled to
the mountains, to increase the number of Bulgarian revolutionaries. In such a situation, the resistance of the ethnic Bulgarians was not delayed. It triggered in response yet further punitive actions and outrages committed on Bulgarians across the villages and towns in Macedonia and Thrace. In order to weaken the spiritual resistance of Bulgarians, the government of the Young Turks supported or at least did not oppose any foreign anti-Bulgarian manifestations in the European provinces of Turkey. For example it immediately acceded to the proposal made by Serbia, in the purely Bulgarian towns of Veles and Debar, Serbian bishops to be appointed. In the densely populated with Bulgarians regions of Macedonia, the government started settling all the Turkish refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, involving them in its anti-Bulgarian campaign. In this way, persecutions against Bulgarians went on and even gained momentum on the eve of the Balkan War of 1912.
Reports of killed Bulgarians. Bitola, 9 August 1906.
The Bulgarian Trade Agent in Thessalonica sent a statement to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed by village mayors, about the outrages of the army against the Bulgarian peasants. Thessalonica, 19 August 1906.
A letter by refugee widows from Edirne region to the prime Minister of Bulgaria, requesting him to intercede with the Turkish authorities for their sons and relatives to be released from prison, Burgas, 24 October 1904.
List of killed, injured and assaulted Bulgarians by Greek bands in Serres region in 1906, sent to Bulgarian Diplomatic Agency in Istanbul.
The firs page from the list.
Report from the Bulgarian Trade Agency in Thessalonica about army's violence and outrages against the Bulgarian population, 22 November 1908.
Statistics about killed or wounded Bulgarians in Macedonia in 1904, 1905 and the first seven months of 1906. Breakdown of the victims by nationality of their murderes.
List of murders, injuries, abuses etc. perpetrated by the army against Bulgarians in various districts of Macedonia in 1906.
A page from the list.