I would like to thank and pay homage to Kendal Nezan and the Kurdish Institute of Paris for honoring me with the opportunity of addressing this prominent assembly.
I revere the memory of the late Kamuran Bedir Khan, notable son of Kurdish people and also, my cousin from three generations back.
Between 2008 and 2013, for five full years, I worked in the Ottoman archives to shed light on the details of Emir Bedir Khan’s life and struggle. I reviewed about 800 documents. It was not an easy task, but a very exciting one indeed. I published my work in two volumes: Years of Resistance and Insurrection and Years of Exile.
I will try to briefly summarize his exile years. This period is the least known of his life.
However, before dealing with the main subject, I wish to touch upon some basic fictitious tales about this period. There are two main sources for these tales. The most detailed one is the book written by Mehmed Selahaddin, Political Documents of a Turkish Diplomat, written in 1889 or 1890. The other is an entry in the Encyclopedia of Turkish Notables by İbrahim Alaettin Gövsa, entitled “Bedir Khan Bey”. If we were to believe them:
- The Grand Vizier Mustafa Reshid Pasha never organized a military operation against Emir Bedir Khan; he just invited him to Istanbul and Emir Bedir Khan has accepted this invitation.
- Sultan Abdulmecid never intended to exile him; he just had to bow to British pressure.
- Emir Bedir Khan had the chance to appear before Sultan Abdulmecid several times and his majesty always received him graciously.
- Due to his services for the Ottoman State during his exile years in Crete, the rank of Pasha was bestowed upon him in 1857.
I draw your attention to the date of Mehmed Selahaddin’s book. The year 1889/1890 was the eve of the period during which preparations were made for organizing the Hamidiye Regiments. Mehmed Selahaddin, who had close ties to the palace tried to win over the Bedir Khanis and other prominent Kurds to this project. Having this in mind he tried to whitewash the policy which Sultan Abdulmecid and his Grand Vizier Mustafa Reshid Pasha had pursued against Emir Bedir Khan, and thereby rewrote history by distorting historical realities and created imaginative narratives.
When Emir Bedir Khan arrived in Crete he had five sons with him, all were small children, the eldest was only 10 years old. The others of his 21 sons were all born either in Crete or in Istanbul. His grandsons never knew him. So they seem to have believed these fairy tales and even reproduced them with their own imaginary contributions. One of the best examples of this is the autobiography of my great uncle Abdurrezzak Bedir Khan. It astonishes me that there are still some historians who keep repeating these tales.
The Ottoman archive documents regarding Emir Bedir Khan’s years of exile tell a completely contradictory story. Leaving such tales aside then, we can turn to the facts as they are revealed by the archival documents.
Phases of exile years
The period we name as “exile years”, from his surrender to the Ottoman Army in July 1847 to his death in Damascus in June 1869, covers the last 22 years of his life and has four phases.
- Detention days (110 days – 3.5 months),
- Years in Crete (about 16 years)
- Years in Istanbul (about 5 years), and
- Damascus (1 year).
The Last 40 Days in Kurdistan
After having fought for 36 days against the Anatolian Army of the Ottoman Empire, on 4th July 1847, Emir Bedir Khan surrendered at the Evreh Castle to which he retreated. This is the same day that his most loyal ally, Han Mahmud, surrendered in Tatvan.
He was taken into custody in a tent nearby the castle. On the second day of his surrender, after an 18 hour ride, he was taken to Dêrgûl (today’s Kumçatı/Şırnak) where he was held in custody, probably also in a tent, for another 38 days.
Upon his surrender, there was a festive wind at the Sublime Port. The defeat of Emir Bedir Khan and his allies was labeled as “a new conquest of Kurdistan“ and as “an auspicious incident”. The celebration message coming from the British ambassador intensified the festive atmosphere.
Meanwhile, Emir Bedir Khan’s petition for his family members to be allowed to stay in Kurdistan was categorically refused: “Every one of them should be uprooted from Kurdistan; this is an obligatory duty!” So was the verdict of Sultan Abdulmecid.
After ten days, Han Mahmud and his brothers and some of his men were also brought to Dêrgûl and all the captives were placed in tents where they were put in chains.
The captives were to be sent to Istanbul and were not allowed to take anything along with them except cash. They had to leave everything they owned to their relatives who were to be left in Kurdistan. However, Emir Bedir Khan’s whole family consisting of 49 persons, including even the babies, were to be deported. Hence, he had to entrust all his wealth to his deputy Mollah Sadık from Botan. He had to sign a protocol to this effect. However, this protocol did not contain an inventory of the assets he had entrusted to his deputy. This deficiency in the protocol seemed to worry Emir Bedir Khan, for upon his arrival in Istanbul and in Crete he tried to make a detailed inventory of his assets three times to be sent to the Grand Vizier. His main concern appeared to be the sale of his assets so that with that money he would be able to look after his large family during his exile years of his life.
After being held 40 days in Dêrgûl they were sent on to Istanbul. The Bedir Khan group consisted of 114 and Han Mahmud group of 13 persons. In total, they amounted to a group of 127 captives accompanied by two infantry battalions and two cavalry troops. The overland route was Dêrgûl-Harput-Sivas-Amasya-Samsun. Then they went from Samsun by ship to Istanbul. The trip took 50 days.
Istanbul – 18-day detention in the police headquarters
The ship carrying the captives arrived Istanbul on the 1st of October 1847. A separate apartment linked to police headquarters was reserved for the exiles, where they would spend 18 days. They were put into three separate prison wards in that apartment. The Han Mahmud group (all men) were put in one ward, the male members of the Bedir Khan group were put in another and the women and children were all put in the third ward. The wards were isolated from each other; the prisoners were not allowed to contact the other wards. The men were chained, though the women and children were probably not. None of the prisoners were permitted to leave their rooms.
Emir Bedir Khan requests a pardon and permission to stay in Istanbul
In his official disclosure written on the 14th. day of his imprisonment in the police headquarters, Emir Bedir Khan pleaded for amnesty and for permission to settle in Istanbul. He stated that if his request was granted, he would forget his homeland Cizre-Botan forever and he promised never to go there again.
In his disclosure he justifies his request to Sultan Abdulmecid for amnesty in he following way:
“My fault is not even a bit next to the forgiveness of the sultan.”
… and then he quotes Persian polymath Omar Khayyám’s (1048 – 1131) verse in the original Farsi:
Tell me Oh Lord, who is it that has never sinned!
Tell me Oh Lord, how can one live without sinning!
I do malice and you retaliate in the same way;
Tell me Oh Lord, what is the difference then between you and me!
Mehmed Selahaddin, in his afore-mentioned book, claims that Emir Bedir Khan read this verse in the presence of the sultan, and the sultan was very pleased. This is completely irrelevant to reality. Emir Bedir Khan never ever appeared before the sultan and, to top it all, the sultan did not even ever see Emir Bedir Khan’s disclosure in question.
The very next day he and Han Mahmud were brought into the presence of the Grand Vizier Mustafa Reshid Pasha who made them come to declare the following:
The two will be exiled to different detention colonies – Emir Bedir Khan to Crete and Han Mahmud to Ruscuk (Ruse/Bulgaria). While rioting deserves severe punishment, the fact that the Sultan sends them into exile instead is a great blessing. They would spend the rest of their lives in the exile colonies and they should cut off their all relations with and hopes for Kurdistan completely.
Having been informed that in two days his group will be on the ship to take them to Crete, Emir Bedir Khan hastily has asked to be allowed to get together with his four wives to take down an inventory of his assets to be submitted to the Grand Vizier. Thereupon they were put on the ship the day before departure so that they could work on it. Because this inventory was taken down in a great haste, it was incomplete. Therefore, after arriving Crete he wrote the inventory down two more times. In his account book there was a special note written for his deputy Molla Sadık saying:
“All the transactions should be well documented and in case I don’t receive the revenue from the sale of my assets and properties, inasmuch as you are my deputy, I shall request it from you.”
The Bedir Khan group in Heraklion
The journey from İstanbul started on 18th October and Emir Bedir Khan, his family and the rest of the group, altogether 111 persons, arrived in Heraklion on 22nd October 1847.
These 111 persons were:
|Emir Bedir Khan himself
|His sons (Hamid, Necib, Mustafa Ali, Ahmed Bedri, Rıza Bahri)
|His wives (Fatma, Gazele, Hazere, Ruşen)
|His odalisques / female slaves (cariyeler)
|His servant girls (beslemeler)
|His elder brother Salih Bey
|Salih Bey’s sons
|Salih Bey’s wives
|His younger brother Esad Bey
|His uncle Abdullah Bey
|Four wives and one daughter of his slaves left in Kurdistan
|His allies (Muftu Abdulkuddûs, Efendi Ağa, Sheikh Erzai, Sheikh Abdülgani, Tahir Ağa, etc.)
|His porters (hamal)
|His tenants (sharecroppers)
On their arrival the exiles were immediately put on shore and placed in houses previously prepared for them.
General living conditions in Heraklion – first 10 years
City of Heraklion had the shape of a triangle. The north edge was seafront. The other two edges were encircled by city walls. The surface area of this triangular city was 2 to 2.5 square kilometers. The city walls had five entrance gates which were strictly controlled; entrance and exit without permission was almost impossible.
Police stations were erected in the region where the exiles had been settled and on the city walls of that region there were watchtowers. Every movement of the exiles was monitored 24 hours a day.
The exiles were forbidden to go beyond the city walls. They were strictly banned from communicating with the outside world.
Briefly stated, for the exiles the city of Heraklion was a high security open prison.
Warranties given in return for surrender
One way of understanding what kind of a life Emir Bedir Khan lived during his 22 years of exile is to bear in mind the warranties given to him by the Sultan in case he surrendered of his own free will.
- There would be no act of revenge against him;
- His life and property would be under state guarantee;
- He would dwell somewhere else in the Ottoman Empire and would live there in security and at peace.
Except the “life warranty” and “to dwell in somewhere in the Ottoman Empire”, other warranties were not respected. Hence, throughout all his years of exile, Emir Bedir Khan and his large family had to live on the allowance given him by the Sultan in dribs and drabs. Until his death, in none of the cities Heraklion, Istanbul or Damascus, could he spend his life in security and at peace.
Now we can have a closer look at the violation of the warranties given to him.
Waiting till his cash reserve drains out
For the first 10 months in Heraklion neither Emir Bedir Khan nor the others were given an allowance. Emir Bedir Khan had to look after the whole group – 111 persons.
On his arrival in Heraklion he had about 250,000 kuruş with him. In eight months this amount had fallen to an alarmingly low level. He then notified the governor of the island that he would no longer subsidie anybody outside of his family. This move of Emir Bedir Khan’s resulting in some 40 of his men (namely his allies, porters and tenants) monthly being granted allowances, however quite nominal.
Emir Bedir Khan and his family members, however, were excluded from this financial aid arrangement. In the meantime, Bedir Khan Bey bought himself a house, relying on loans. By the beginning of 1849, the governor of the island reported that all indications clearly revealed that Emir Bedir Khan’s cash reserve had hit bottom and that he was without resources.
In other words, the Sublime Port and the local administration waited until his cash reserve drained out.
Only then, i.e. only after a year and a half, was his case put on the agenda and a monthly allowance of 7.000 kuruş was finally granted him. But then, the allowances for porters and tenants were also to be paid out of this amount! In other words, this 7 ,000 kuruş was not an allowance only for the Bedir Khan family, but for approximately 75 persons. In the words of the governor, “under present conditions, this amount only suffices him to live from hand to mouth”.
This was supposed to be a life “in security and at peace”!
Confiscation and plunder of his wealth
According to the two inventory registers Emir Bedir Khan had sent to the Grand Vizier the breakdown of his assets in Cizre-Botan is as follows:
Nine villages in various locations in Cizre-Botan
A castle like mansion in Dêrgûl with vineyards
Two saltworks in Siirt
Various materials stocked in his four castles in Evreh, Fenik, Çeko and Girisor
|tons of foodstuff (cereal, fat, cheese, honey, and the like)
|tons of soap, wax, copper, horseshoe and tack
|pieces of various types of rugs
|pieces of large nomad tents
|pieces of other type of big tents.
- 26 saddle horses
- 59 work horses
- 147 mules
- 134 cattle
- 6604 sheep
- Various carat gold: 1,000 pieces
- Jeweled rings: 14 pieces
- Gold chain: 2 pieces
- Amber: 5 pieces
- Bracelet [braselet]: 1 piece
Receivable cash (money put out to loan): 147.083 kuruş
- In short, he owned quite a big fortune.
The “warranty of property” given to Emir Bedir Khan was blatantly violated first and foremost by Sultan Abdulmecid himself. All nine villages owned by him were first confiscated by the state and then their ownership was transferred to the private foundation of Sultan Abdulmecid.
As to the rest of his real estates and properties, these were plundered by his deputy Molla Sadık, by the governor of Kurdistan, by other local administrators and their local civil collaborators.
From the time that the issue of Emir Bedir Khan’s allowance was put on the agenda, the Grand Vizier sent written orders to the governor of Kurdistan demanding reports about the asset inventory of Emir Bedir Khan. However, although the governor never sent such a report, the Grand Vizier Mustafa Reshid Pasha never brought this governor to account for the simple reason that nothing could be more important than ensuring the safety and order in Kurdistan. After the defeat of Emir Bedir Khan, the governors of the newly established Kurdistan Province were empowered with special authority which gave them the final word on all critical issues. They were like the “state of emergency governors” of today.
“Take me out of this hell”
On July 1853, i.e. in the sixth year of his deportation to Heraklion, he sent a written petition to the Grand Vizier in which he briefly asked to be taken out of the hell he was forced to live in:
“For a good long time, I am deeply grieved on a remote island – weary, downhearted, deserted and desperate. It is hard to say whether I am dead or alive, whether I exists or not. Although Crete is peerlessly beautiful and is a wonderful piece of land, under my prevalent conditions Crete is, in my eyes, purely and simply a hell and a dungeon. Therefore, for the sake of Sultan’s noble sons, I beg him to rescue me from Crete and summon to Istanbul so that I am brought back to life and revived.”
Emir Bedir Khan got a ruthless reply to his petition. He should completely forget his vain hopes of Kurdistan, should adapt himself to the idea that Crete would be his homeland for the rest of his life, and should spend all his time praying for the Sultan.
Crimean War and riot of Yezdansher
Three months later the Crimean War started, and the Ottoman State took part in it along with the United Kingdom and France against Russia.
On the 10th of December 1853, Emir Bedir Khan sent a second petition to the Grand Vizier and to the Commander in Chief of the Ottoman Army to be allowed to join the Ottoman Army. This was another way to get out of Crete. However, this time he was not complaining about his conditions in Crete, he stated that he was doing his best to adopt Crete as his homeland. His only and one wish was to be able to join in the army to fight “for Islam, for the State and for the Nation”. He never got any answer to this petition.
While the Crimean War was going on, Kurdistan turned into a powder barrel ready to explode. With the defeat of Emir Bedir Khan the system of emirates was abolished but the traditional institutions of that system were not replaced by new ones. Economic and social devastation, public disorder, plunder, and raids have raged through Kurdistan. The only thing the state could do was to increase the repressive measures and to punish the uncontrolled tribes. Rising taxes, compulsory military service, bribery and corruption of local administrators led to deep and widespread unrest. Consequently, the quest for a new leader started among the Kurdish tribes. Being a member of the noble family of Azizans, Emir Bedir Khan’s nephew Yezdansher was the ideal leader they were looking for.
Yezdansher himself was ready for this role. He had always felt that his hereditary right to become the officially recognized Emir of Cizre-Botan was usurped. He had collaborated with the Ottoman army against Emir Bedir Khan and waited in vain to be appointed to an administrative post after his Emir Bedir Khan’s removal. Disappointed, Yezdansher was busy from the end of 1853 on to organize an insurrection in Cizre-Botan. This insurrection started in November 1854 and lasted four months.
Growing unrest in Kurdistan and Yezdansher’s insurrection set off alarm bells for the Sublime Port. This was a two-fold anxiety:
What if Yezdanşer turns into a “new Bedir Khan”? And the worst, what if Emir Bedir Khan and Han Mahmud escape from their detention colonies and come back to Kurdistan?
In fact, flights from Crete had already begun. The first was the son of Emir Bedir Khan’s elder brother Salih Bey. Later three more got away. The alarm bells induced the Sublime Port to send new instructions to the governors of the detention colonies to take additional measures to prevent their escape. These new repressive measures, however, aggravated Emir Bedir Khan’s already deep frustration and desperation.
Emir Bedir Khan’s Farm in Crete: “Kabıl Hora”
Emir Bedir Khan, having lost his hope to free himself from Crete, bought himself a farm in February 1855, two hours away from the city of Heraklion. The farm was named “Kabıl Hora”. Due to prevailing restrictions prohibiting him from going outside the city walls, he probably ran this farm with the help of middlemen.
When later, in 1863, he got the permission to settle in Istanbul, he did not sell this farm and held it till his death in 1869.
Where was this farm located exactly? How much did Emir Bedir Khan have to pay for it? How big was it? What was the yield? I could not find answers to these questions.
Earthquake in Crete
In the very early hours of 12th of October 1856, a very destructive earthquake occurred in Crete. The biggest disaster was experienced in Heraklion. Emir Bedir Khan’s residence and his farm went to ruin. The whole family had to move into tents erected on the street.
With a petition submitted to the Grand Vizier he describes his distress: The house he had to go into debt to buy was now in ruins. For its reconstruction he was in desperate need of 125.000 kuruş. With new births the number of dependents had increased to 90. Even so, his monthly allowance was still 7,000 kuruş. To make matters worse, he now had to deal with the consequences of the earthquake. He needs urgent help.
Six months passed by without any reply to this petition.
Total amnesty and bestowment of Grand Seigneur rank and Pasha title
However, six months later, on May 24th, 1857, in accordance with the order of Sultan, a special meeting was held with the participation of grand vizier and some other viziers and several high ranked army commanders. The agenda of this meeting was the need to make a wisely radical change in the ongoing “Bedir Khan Policy”. The premise of the Sultan’s order was the following:
If Emir Bedir Khan does not have the full confidence that he is completely pardoned, he may dare to find a way to escape and to go to Kurdistan to organize another insurrection. To take stricter preventive measures will serve nothing else but amplifying his despair and stimulating his desire to escape. The best way to insure state security is to put an end to his state of despair.
Accordingly, the meeting proposes the following policy:
Emir Bedir Khan shall be fully pardoned and be offered three alternatives:
First alternative: He may leave Crete and settle in Istanbul. Second alternative: He may continue to reside in Crete if he wishes to.
No matter which of these two alternatives he prefers, his net monthly allowance shall be increased to a level which would suffice him to lead a prosperous life.
Third alternative: He may be appointed to an administrative post somewhere in the Eyalet of Rumelia (i.e. European region of Ottoman Empire). But in this case his allowance shall be cut off and he shall get only the salary of that post.
After being signed by the Sultan these three alternatives were sent to Emir Bedir Khan in written form and he was asked to come to Istanbul to declare his preference regarding these alternatives.
Someday prior to the 10th of September 1857 he arrived in Istanbul. The Sultan’s royal decree about Emir Bedir Khan dated the 10th of September 1857 briefly declared the following:
With this word of command of mine you are bestowed with the rank of Grand Seigneur [mir-i miran] and with Pasha title. Hereafter you serve my imperial state loyally, with appreciation, with endeavor and steadfastly and advisedly.
Interestingly enough, Bedir Khan Bey preferred to go on residing in Crete.
His monthly allowance was increased by 100 percent, from 7,000 kuruş to 14,000 kuruş. His 43 tenants and porters (hamals) were permitted to return to Kurdistan. This was really a big relief for Emir Bedir Khan. As a special gift of Sultan, he was given a lump sum of 75.000 kuruş and a travel allowance of 25.000 kuruş. However, this total 100,000 kuruş did not even cover the cost of reconstructing his earthquake damaged house. Apart from these, he was handed over a written decree to be submitted to the governor of the island, ordering the governor and his subordinates to strictly respect his Pasha title and to pay his monthly allowance on time, so that his welfare and rest be insured. (However, this decree only existed on paper.)
This change in the “Bedir Khan policy” did not put an end to his sufferings. The only radical change was that Heraklion stopped being an “high security open prison” for him. He could freely go beyond the city walls.
The archive documents clearly show that the reason he was given the title of Pasha had nothing to do with his alleged “services to the Ottoman State”.
The rebellion of the Christians and Emir Bedir Khan
Eight months later, after his return from Istanbul, the increasing tension between the Muslim and Christian communities led to an attempt to massacre the Christians in Heraklion. This incident brought Crete to the threshold of civil war. That this did not happen, was mainly due to Emir Bedir Khan’s voluntary efforts of mediation between the two communities. Just as the massacre of 20-30 thousand Nestorians in 1843 and 1846 was the darkest page of his life in Kurdistan, so was this the brightest page of his exile years.
The basis of the growing tension between the Muslim and Christian communities was the Royal Edict of Reform (Islahat Fermanı) dated 18th February 1856 which aimed at defining the rights and privileges of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman state. The attempt to ensure legal equality between the two communities aggravated the already existing tensions in numerous parts of the eastern part of the empire (including Crete). While Christians demanded the implementation of the reforms, Muslims on the other hand were resisting the Royal Edict.
The riot of the Christians in Crete started on 16th May 1858. Hearing that the tax collectors had come to a village nearby Chania, a group of Christians attacked the village and seizing the collection money, returned it to the villagers. Thereupon a clash of arms took place between the Ottoman armed forces and the rioters. The Muslims who were the minority in the villages took refuge in the cities of Chania, Heraklion and Resmo where they constituted the majority. The coming of the Muslims into these cities horrified the Christians living there for fear of being lynched. Tension between the two communities came to a head.
When on the 29th of May 1858 a Christian stabbed a Moslem during a quarrel in a tavern, furious Moslem crowds started a Christian manhunt on the streets of Heraklion. We have at hand three testimonies about this incident:
Testimony of the British consul of Crete: “Kurdish Emir Bedir Khan Pasha by giving shelter to numerous Christians in his house and garden has endeavored to restore order. He has even captured and detained some of the instigators.”
Testimony of French consul Chatry de Lafosse: “Bedir Khan Pasha with a group of his men cooled the frantic crowds down.”
Testimony of French archeologist George Parrot (eye witness): “Heraklion might have witnessed horrible events. Emir Bedir Khan, despite the fact that he had no official duty or title, owing to his prestige and influence among the people and by his shuttling with inexhaustible energy between the Moslems and the Christians, mediated between the two communities.”
In deescalating the situation in Heraklion, Emir Bedir Khan had no support from the local government nor was he asked to take any initiative.
Then there was another incident in the city of Chania in which Emir Bedir Khan tried to play a role, but this time with no success – however, it was as honorable as was his deed in Heraklion.
Similar tensions between the two communities were on the rise also in Chania. The emissary was sent by High Council (Meclis-i Vâlâ) to investigate the underlying reasons for the riot in Crete and to facilitate a reconciliation. Taking into consideration Emir Bedir Khan’s success in Heraklion, he invited Emir Bedir Khan to Chania. A few days later after his arrival there, a Christian youngster killed a Muslim shopkeeper and was arrested. The provoked Muslim crews took to the streets once again, threatening the Christians with death and demanding them to hand over the arrested young man.
The issue was brought to the provincial council. An overwhelming majority gave in to the pressure of the Muslim demonstrators. Only three votes were against it, and Emir Bedir Khan was one of them. He expressed his view on the issue with the following words:
“Rather than taking part in such cowardice as to hand the murderer over to them, I would prefer seeing my three sons slaughtered in front of my own eyes.”
Having won the majority votes of the provincial council, the Muslim crowd lynched the Christian youngster.
Taking the Christians’ side in these two incidents left Emir Bedir Khan at odds with the local administration and with the dominant Muslim circles. Fearful of facing false charges against himself, he took the next ship to Istanbul to explain the recent developments to the Grand Vizier in person. On his return to Crete, he was awarded with the Ottoman Mecidiye order (of the 4th degree) “for his voluntary self-devotion” in preventing the attempted massacre in Heraklion.
Transformation of Emir Bedir Khan’s Weltanschauung (worldview)
Why had Emir Bedir Khan put himself and his family at risk by siding with the Christians? This is the critical question that awaits an explanation. After all he was a faithful Muslim belonging to Nakshbandiya-Halidiya order; he was responsible for the massacre of 20-30 thousand Nestorians. Why should he have placed himself and his family at risk by opposing the local Muslim bureaucracy and their Muslim collaborators? Instead he could have safely stepped aside and remained indifferent to the developing upheaval.
Along with George Parrot, I can only explain his behavior with a transformation in his Weltanschauung (worldview).
Up until ten years before, he was virtually the unrivalled Emir of Kurdistan… He waged a struggle with his allies for an autonomous or independent federal Kurdistan… Through this struggle he developed a great skill in diplomacy… War against the Ottoman Army and being forced to surrender… Captivity and exile… Despite the warranties given to him, he lost all his wealth to the caliph Sultan and to plunderers… Once having been a powerful ruler and owner of great wealth, he had now become an ordinary exiled convict possessing nothing Becoming acquainted with Christians’ struggle against the Ottoman yoke and probably observing a correlation between his previous struggle and theirs… Possibly feeling self-reproach for the massacre of Nestorians…
Because of all these factors, he probably had undergone a Weltanschauung (worldview) transformation. In monsieur Parrot’s words, “an expansion of horizon“ and “a transformation of temperament – softening on the one hand, steel-like stiffening on the other hand”.
If so, this can be considered the second transformation of worldview he had undergone. The first one was upon witnessing the defeat of the Ottoman Army fighting against the army of the governor of Egypt, Mehmed Ali Pasha, in 1839 in Nizip. Just like then, the Emir Bedir Khan who had to surrender to Ottoman Army in 1847 and the Emir Bedir Khan who has lived through the ten-year exile were not the same person.
The cost of taking the side of Christians
Right after the massacre attempt by Muslims in Heraklion (June 1858), the Ottoman bureaucracy of Crete made Emir Bedir Khan pay for siding with the Christians. From that month on they stopped paying his monthly allowance. In Emir Bedir Khan’s words:
“Having been his guardians for ten years, the Ottoman bureaucracy cannot tolerate the fact that he has now the title of Pasha and they hate him for his conduct during the upheaval in Heraklion.”
Upon his petition to the Sublime Port to have permission to settle in somewhere else other than Crete, he got a humiliating reply:
“This is feasible only if you give up the allowance granted to you by the Grand Vizier and agree to take an administrative post in one of the castles of Adrianople, Erbuş (?) or Thessaloniki.”
While declining this conditional offer, Emir Bedir Khan expressed his reaction in a roundabout way by reminding them of the confiscation of his villages and by demanding that his deputy Molla Sadık be brought to Istanbul where he would be tried and sentenced. Once again, as usual, this never happened.
The irregularity in payment of his allowance and Emir Bedir Khan’s petitions for redress continued for another five years. In the meanwhile, his monthly allowance was increased from 14.000 kuruş to 19.000 kuruş. However, this raise for an unpaid allowance was not true relief for him.
In June 1861 Sultan Abdulmecid died and Abdulaziz acceded to the throne, and towards the end of 1862 Emir Bedir Khan and his family were finally allowed to settle in Istanbul. Thus, in the early months of 1863, the family moved to Istanbul.
Except for his younger brother Esad Bey who probably took over the management of the farm in Heraklion, I could not confirm exactly which family members opted to stay in Crete.
Istanbul and Damascus
I could reach only very few archival documents relating to his life in Istanbul and later in Damascus.
In Istanbul, he bought a mansion in the Fatih district, close to the Yavuz Selim Mosque (Çarshamba neighborhood). Irregularities in the payment of his allowance continued during his 5-year stay in Istanbul. After being informed that his allowance could be paid only every three months, he submitted a petition requesting permission to go to an ortin Arabia where the financial position of the local administration was strong enough that it would be able to pay his allowance regularly. Thereupon The Sublime Port decided that he should move to Damascus.
In June 1868 he took the ship to Beirut and from there traveled over-land with horse-drawn carriages to Damascus. One year later, in June 1869, at the age of 63, he passed away. He was buried in the graveyard of the Rukneddin neighborhood. Later his grave was turned into a memorial tomb with the donations of Celal Talbani, Abdulhamid Derwish and Kemal Burkay. Emir Bedir Khan’s grandchild Celadet Bedir Khan and his wife Rewshen Bedir Khan were both buried in this memorial tomb, next to Emir Bedir Khan.