Brief Information About Circassian Exile, by Halim Hambet
Prof. Halim Hambet
Historical Science Doctor in KBR State University, Nalchik
If Adygheans (Circassians) wasn’t forced to live this inhumane exile and genocide, today the Adyghean population in the Caucasus would be more than 18 millions.
According to F. Kanits’s, a German scientist and ethnographer, writings 1300 Circassians out of 2100, lost their lives in the sea while they were taken from Ottoman Empire to Cyprus. It was such a disaster that if you followed the dead bodies on the sea, you could easily find out the course of the ship.
Only 7.000 Adygheans out of 22.000 survived who disembarked to Batum region and were settled there. At the same time only 100 Adygheans survived from out of another 30.000 group and they were settled to Samsun region.
According to A. P. Berge’s writings, daily on avarage 180 to 250 Adygheans lost their lives who were disembarked to Samsun and Trabzon region. The situation they were forced to live in was really suffering.
In 1860 Yevdokimov, the Russian army commander for Psij region, prepared a plan for the occupation of Caucasus in order to end the war in a shorter time. Up to this plan the Adygheans would be exiled from their lands to the Psij region or to the Ottoman Empire.
And then Kazaks would be settled to their places that Adighas forced to leave.
As a first step of this politicy, 10,000 Adygheans were chosen from the most resistant Adyghean tribes and exiled to the Ottoman Empire.
After 1860 the number of Adygheans exiled from their lands to the Ottoman Empire were increased rapidly. The Russian Tsar was anxious about the probability of the Ottoman Empire would not accept anymore Adygheans. For that reason the Tsar and his generals in Caucasus send Loris Malikov, an official who is responsible from Terek region, to Istanbul for making an aggreement with the Ottoman Empire.
For his mission Loris Melikov made secret negotiations and agreements with the Ottoman Empire to ensure that in no condition the Adygheans would be refused and returned to their lands.
According to the newspaper Vsemirniy Puteshestvennik published in 1871, during the Circassian Exile two out of three Circassians were perrished during the exodus.
One of the Russian officials who was in charge during the Russo- Caucasus War said: “I can not forget an atrocious scene that I saw with my own eyes. The dead bodies that were eaten and broken into pieces by dogs was spread all around and almost all of them were children, women and elderly people.”
“People were so exhausted because of the famine and the epidemic that they were trying to save their lives before becoming dog bait. The survivors weren’t able to bury the dead bodies and they knew their end will be the same as others.”
In 1872, 8,500 exiled Adyghe families appealed to return back to their homeland and they declared that they would accept wherever they would be settled in North Caucasus.
But when the Tsar saw these applications, it was noted on them by himself : “Returning back to Caucasus must not be discussed even!”. At this time Psij region and many other regions were emptied and there was nobody settled there yet.
Y. Abramov made an true comment about exile: “There is no doubt that Russian officals did their best to remove Adygheans from Caucasus and send them to the Ottoman Empire. At the same time Russian officials did absolutely nothing for impeding the Ottoman Empire officials who were serving for the same aim with them in Caucasus.”
Besides obvious Russian activities, there were Adygheans in cooperation with Russian Tsar’s secret services who were working hard to convince Adygheans to immigrate into Ottoman Empire. For instance Ishak Efendi who had a great credit between Shapsough tribe, was one of the collaborators’ that had secret activities.
Again it is well known that two thousand gold coins were promised to one of the leaders’ of Natuhach tribe to convince Natukhach tribe to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire.
The first condition for joining Ottoman Empire Army was being unmarried or have no family. For that reason some Adygheans left their wifes to the mansions as servants and put their children up for adoption. By that way they could save their lives before dying from famine or poverty. Then they joined the army.
The shores of the Ottoman Empires were filled with corpses that couldnt be burried. Since the bread was distributed according to the number of people, they kept the corpses of the dead in the sheds lying next to them.
Between 1858 and 1863 the number of Adygheans exiled from Blacksea shores of Caucasus was nearly 500,000. Despite that there was no other information about the number of exiled people from other regions or ports, it is estimated that their numbers wasn’t less.