The Izmir Plot and The North Caucasian Immigration

  • 17/07/2023

This week in the history of North Caucasian Immigration...

The Izmir Plot and The North Caucasian Immigration

In June 1926, an assassination attempt against President Mustafa Kemal Pasha was uncovered upon a tip-off received from a person named Giritli Şevki (Shevki of Crete).  Governor of Izmir, Kazım Bey (Dirik), who revealed the conspiracy, sent a telegram to Mustafa Kemal Pasha informing him of the assassination plan and asking him to postpone his visit to Izmir.  Mustafa Kemal did not postpone the trip and came to Izmir on June 16, 1926. On the same day, the ringleaders of the assassination, Mp of Lazistan Ziya Khurshid, Chopur Hilmi and Laz Ismail, and Gürcü Yusuf (Yousef the Georgian) were arrested.  Sarı (Blond) Efe Edip and Abidin Beys, who had gone to Istanbul the day before, were also captured in Istanbul.

Sari Efe Edip
Sari Efe Edip is under arrest,  July 1926 Ankara

The veil of mystery surrounding the assassination attempt has not disappeared even today.  The allegations that the assassination attempt was a conspiracy, that it was a massacre carried out by highlighting marginal personalities such as Kel Ali (Çetinkaya) and creating assassination paranoia in Mustafa Kemal Pasha to eliminate the opponents such as the Çerkes Ethem (The Circassian) supporters and the Progressive Republican Party which became a nightmare for Prime Minister İsmet Inonu, have never fallen off the agenda.     All political opponents of İsmet Inonu, fifteen people who were accused of involvement in the conspiracy, were executed according to the decisions of the judge of the Independence Court, Ali Çetinkaya on July 13. Kel (The Bald) Ali was rather an executioner than a judge of a civil court. At the end of these trials, in which a large part of the founding cadres of the Republic of Turkey were tried, all political opponents were liquidated, the Progressive Republican Party was closed, and the single-party regime consolidated its absolute power. 

Ismail Canbulat on Gallows
Ismail Canbulat on Gallows, 1926 Ankara

After the first prisoners were executed on the night of July 13, a nationwide witch hunt was launched the very next day and all the names that İsmet Inonu saw as a threat to his political career were detained.  Important personalities belonging to the North Caucasian immigration of the era also took their share in this witch hunt. Yenibahçeli Nail (Oğuz) from Dagestan and Circassian Sarı Efe Edip was among the first to be executed.  Nail Keçili, the grandson of Yenibahçeli Nail Bey, claimed in an interview years later that Mustafa Kemal had confessed to his father that Nail was innocent, but İsmet Inonu insisted on his execution.  Çerkes Aziz Bey (Orbay), Rauf Orbay's brother-in-law, was among those detained.  The court could not manage to convict him despite Kel Ali's best efforts.  Similarly, the Ossetian Bekir Sami (Kundukh) was surprisingly able to extricate himself from this conspiracy.  However, Abaza Rauf (Orbay) Bey, the founder and leader of the Progressive Republican Party, who was abroad at the time of the incident, was sentenced to ten years of exile in absentia without even being given a chance to defend himself.  Circassian Hatko Ismail Canbulat Bey, who defended himself against the accusations and proved his innocence despite all the efforts of the court to convict him, was also sentenced to ten years of exile without any reason.  When Ismail Canbulat, who objected to the deportation, stated that he had proved his innocence and would not accept the punishment, he was tried for the second time and sentenced to death.

Thus, Prime Minister Ismet Inonu achieved his goal of the absolute elimination of political opposition of the North Caucasian émigré groups.

Istanbul, 17 July 2023

You can refer to the following material in our library for further readings on the subject.