Tehcir Law
The Tehcir Law was passed by the Ottoman Parliament on May 27, 1915 and allegedly came into force on June 1, 1915, with publication in Takvim-i Vekayi, the official gazette of the Ottoman State. The temporary law expired on February 8, 1916.


The Tehcir Law was part of the special measures against the Armenian population taken by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. This was coupled by a second set of order given to the "Special Organization
Special Organization
The term Special Organization can refer to any of the following:*The Special Organization was a branch of the Ottoman military during the First World War...

" for the elimination of the evacuated population also including the alleged taking care of the vacated properties.

Ottoman archives document that Armenian evacuation started as early as March 2. 1915.

After the expiration of the "Tehcir Law" evacuation and massacres still followed. On 13 September 1915, the Ottoman parliament passed the "Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation," stating that all property, including land, livestock, and homes belonging to Armenians, was to be confiscated by the authorities.

The background of the legislation

Before the Ottoman parliament implemented the "Tehcir Law", there was a circular by Talaat Pasha. In the night of April 24, 1915, Mehmed Talaat Bey, who was the minister of interior at the time, ordered 250 Armenian intellectuals to be deported from the Ottoman capital
Armenian notables deported from the Ottoman capital in 1915
The deportation of Armenian notables, also known as the Red Sunday refers to the night when leaders of the Armenian community of the Ottoman capital, Constantinople, and later other centers were arrested and moved to two holding centers near Ankara by the Minister of the Interior Mehmed Talaat Bey...


In May 1915, Mehmed Talaat requested that the cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 and Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 Said Halim Pasha
Said Halim Pasha
Said Halim Pasha , Ottoman Empire Grand Vizier from 1913-17. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he was the grandson of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, "founder of modern Egypt". The "Pasha" in his name is an honorific that translates in English to "Lord", or "Lord Said Halim".He was one of the signers in Ottoman-German...

 legalize a measure for relocation and settlement of Armenians to other places due to what Talat called "the Armenian riots and massacres, which had arisen in a number of places in the country" are a threat to national security."

The nature of the law

Tehcir Law was a temporary law that expired on February 8, 1916. It was a civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

, planned, implemented and enforced with an office (created by the law) to coordinate the activities under the name of “Migrant General Directorate” (Turkish: Göçmen Genel Müdürlüğü). The civil law gave the military an enforcing power only if there were opposing parties to the implementation. The rules and regulations of the law, as published in the Takvim-i Vekayi (Ottoman official newspaper), were public and they were shared with all parties.

The question of the law

Tehcir Law publicly was allegedly about (1) the military measures against those opposing government orders, country’s defense, and the protection of peace; and against those organizing armed attacks and resistance, and killing rebels during aggression and uprising in wartime, (2) the transfer and resettlement on a single basis or en masse, the people living in villages and towns who are found to be engaged in espionage or treason, (3) the temporary law’s effect and expiration, and (4) the definition of the responsible parties (application). One Ottoman Archival material dated July 12 suggest that massacres were part of those measures implemented against the Armenians. The Turkish Martial Court supports this by referring to documents that claim that the main reason for the evacuation was annihilation.

The subject of the law

Although this law was directed against one particular ethnic group (Armenian) the Assyrian population also fell victim as did some Christians from the East.

In the text of the law, there is no explicit mention that Armenians were the main target, and the text notes that (1) the ill, (2) the blind, (3) Catholics, (4) Protestants, (5) the soldiers and their families, (6) the officers, (7) merchants, some workers and masters were not subject to evacuation. If conditions got worse, these groups are ordered to be settled in the city centers.

Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire
Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire
Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire were contracts between the Ottoman Empire and European powers, particularly France. Turkish capitulations, or ahdnames, were generally bilateral acts whereby definite arrangements were entered into by each contracting party towards the other, not mere...

 granted missionaries
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 a protectorate state (see:Protectorate of missions
Protectorate of missions
Protectorate of Missions is a term for the right of protection exercised by a Christian power in an 'infidel' country with regard to the persons and establishments of the missionaries...

). There is a group of rules that grant rights to missionaries under the Ottoman Empire. Another decipher orders the Catholic Armenian Missionaries not to leave the Ottoman Empire until the next order. This message was not respected in some centers, such as Maraş and Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...


Rights of subject of the law

The alleged intention of the law, which was published during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, was a temporary movement of the citizens during the conflicts and not the permanent displacement as there was a decree (regulation, or adjunct) with respect to the relocated citizens by the "Tehcir Law" who wanted to return; claimed "except those people [affected by the Tehcir Law], no one else will be touched." Also if we look at the fourth section of the Tehcir law, it was specifically designed to hold the enforcer units responsible to follow up and record the properties owned by the subjects of the immigration. The law included a responsible party for the protection of properties the owners could/will return in a later term. Another law was passed to regulate the enforcement of this section On 10 June 1915. In this section, it was demanded that there would be three copies of this information; one kept in the regional churches, one in the regional administration, and one kept by the commission responsible for the execution of the law. The second and third parties of this law were held responsible for the protection of the properties until the immigrants' return.

While on the surface the law was allegedly temporary, the main reason of the law was to settle the Armenian issue once for all, therefore permanent. Kamuran Gurun has released archival material from the minister of war that provides the aim of passing the law. In that letter Enver takes it as permanent and not temporary with the aim of fixing the Armenian problem once and for all.

While it is claimed that the debts of the evacuated population were to be completely canceled, and recurring tax debts (property tax) of the Armenians were postponed until they returned, the Armenian properties were seized by the government, sold or given to the Muslim residents or given to Muslim immigrants. A significant amount of money made from the sale of the seized properties was transferred and secured in Berlin.

The financial burden of the law

A fund was initiated with the law. The control of the fund was assigned to director Şükrü Bey, a directorate under the immigrants general office (Immigrant and Tribe Settling). He was accused of complicity during the Martial court in the destruction of the Armenian population. Also considered to maintain the link between the Ittihadists and the special organization. From the documents:
Budget for the Tehcir
June 1, 1915 to February 8, 1916
İzmit province 150.000 kuruş
Eskişehir 200.000 kuruş
Ankara province 300.000 kuruş
Konya province 400.000 kuruş
Adana province 300.000 kuruş
Halep province 300.000 kuruş
Musul province 500.000 kuruş
Suriye province 100.000 kuruş
Total 2.250.000 kuruş

Also, the Ottoman government under the international agreements assigned within the capitulations, enabled fund transfers using the missionaries and consuls. Armenian immigrants from the United States sent funds, which were distributed to the Armenians under the knowledge of the government by these institutions. The American Near East Relief Committee, a relief organization for refugees in the Middle East, helped donate over $102 million to Armenians both during and after the war.

It has to be noted that the funds within the provinces aided the immigrants, whose money allocations were sent under provincial budgets depending on the condition of needs.

Those are contradicted by the Ottoman barring access to its own allies relief to the starving Armenian population.

The application of the law

The law was a selective law as explained under "The subject of the law". The list covers the citizens of the Ottoman Empire that were affected by the law.
The citizens affected under the law
Province Transferred not transferred
Adana 14.000 15-16.000
Ankara (Central) 21.236 733
Aydın 250
Birecik 1.200
Diyarbakır 20.000
Dörtyol 9.000
Erzurum 5.500
Eskişehir 7.000
Giresun 328
Görele 250
Halep 26.064
Haymana 60
İzmir 256
İzmit 58.000
Kaleaçık 257
Karahisarı sahib 5.769 2222
Kayseri 45.036 4.911
Keskin 1.169
Kırşehir 747
Konya 1.900
Kütahya 1.400
Mamuretülaziz 51.000 4.000
Maraş 8.845
Nallıhan 479
Ordu 36
Perşembe 390
Sivas 136.084 6.055
Sungurlu 576
Sürmene 290
Tirebolu 45
Trabzon 3.400
Ulubey 30
Yozgat 10.916
TOTAL 422.758 32.766

Abolishment of the law

The law was abolished on February 21, 1916, with an order sent to all Ottoman provinces, while the destruction of the Armenian population continued also claimed political detainees continued to be displaced to Der Zor province
Deir ez-Zor Vilayet
The Sanjak of Zor was a sanjak of the Ottoman Empire. It was spun off from the Vilayet of Baghdad in 1857.The capital was Deir Ez-Zor, a town on the right bank of the Euphrates, which was also the only considerable town of the sanjak. At the beginning of the 20th century, the sanjak had an area of...

. All the activities finalized on March 15, 1916.
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