Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TURKISH ATROCITIES, by Samuel Gridley Howe -1828


One of Omer Brioni's favourite amusements was a Greek hunt, as the Turks called it. They would go out in parties of from fifty to a hundred, mounted, on fleet horses, and scour the open country in search of the Greek peasantry, who might from necessity or hardihood have ventured down upon the plains. After capturing some, they would give the poor creatures a certain distance to start ahead, hoping to escape; and then try the speed of their horses in overtaking them, the accuracy or their pistols in firing at them as they ran, or the keenness of their sabres' edge in cutting off their heads. 

Very many instances are well authenticated of these parties, after tiring of slaughter, having brought in part of their game alive; that is, old men or women who could not escape; of their taking them before Omer Brioni, and deliberately torturing them to death, for his amusement, and that of his followers. Many a poor Greek, refused the merciful doom of the bullet or knife, was held down on the ground on his face, and had a sharp pointed stake applied to the lower part of his body, and driven with a mallet through the whole length of it along the spine, till the point came out at the back of the neck. The stake would then be reared erect, one end planted in the ground, and the miserable victim left shrieking with torment, and
gasping with thirst, till death should relieve him of the horrid pangs of impalement. The recital and particulars of these horrid scenes, would be omitted, were it not that they go in this instance to show that they were perpetrated deliberately, and by the order of the Turkish chief; 
Impalement is perhaps the most dreadful punishment to which man can be subjected; for the driving of the stake through toe body, does not always (as would be supposed) put an instant period to life. If the stake (which is as large as the wrist) is carefully directed along the inside of the spine, it sometimes escapes the vital organs, and the sufferer may live for twenty-four hours or more. They raising him erect, and planting one end of the stake in the ground, seems a refinement of cruelty, practised in some particular cases; for generally, after being spitted, the victim is left upon the ground to writhe die. Impalement is a legally authorized punishment in Turkey. In Candia, several Greek priests, thus spitted alive, were slowly roasted by the Turks.

Samuel Gridley Howe