4. Artvin martyrs
EVIDENCE OF MARTYRS AND CONFESSORS COLLECTED BY ZACHARY CHICHINADZE
The first wave of Islamization of Georgian lands by the Ottomans did not end with the invasion of the latter. The extermination of all Georgians loyal to Christ could leave these lands empty or force the entire local population to rise up in rebellion. The Turks took it into account. As a result, many Georgian Christians remained in the same Artvin region. The Turks imposed additional taxes on them - the jizya, in support of which they referred to the Koran:
"Fight those of the people of Scripture who do not believe in either Allah or the Last Day who do not consider it forbidden what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden who do not profess the true religion until they pay their tribute with their own hands while remaining humiliated". (Koran, 9:29)
"Jizya is paid as a sign of obedience and gives some elements of legal protection to the zemmi. According to dhimmi (legal regime under the Islamic law (Sharia) for non-Muslims), zemmi are usually not allowed to take up arms for self-defense, serve in the army or state bodies, display symbols of their faith, build or repair places of religious purpose and worship, etc. If humiliated do not want to pay jizya or accept Islam, they can become slaves. The status of a slave permits the use of physical or sexual violence against him. Also, a Muslim has the right to kill a slave, as evidenced by the above citation¹.
The size of the jizya and the way it was levied varied according to time and place, but nonetheless, discriminatory taxation stimulated the process of transition to Islam for the sake of liberation from tax oppression. "²
As we can be seen from the quotation above, being a Christian in the Ottoman Empire meant not only paying a special tribute (the amount of which could be unenforceable, which could lead to slavery) but in fact be disenfranchised. The repair of the churches or their construction was practically not available to Christians, as it required a special permission from the Istanbul authorities. Christians could deprive property, move to other places, make slaves, and make their wives and daughters slaves and subject them to sexual violence for non-payment of jizya³. The temples underwent destruction and the Orthodox ascetics were persecuted as long as Ottomans saw the threat of increasing the authority of Christianity.
In the 17th-18th centuries, a new wave of persecution took place in the Georgian lands under the rule of the Ottomans. It can be assumed that its cause was the Ottomans fears that the process of restoration of the Georgian state of Kartli on the northern borders of the empire began and the growing influence of Russia, which acted as a defender of Orthodox Christians, and could potentially become an ally of Orthodox Georgians. Perhaps there were other reasons for the new intensification of persecution. In any case, the new persecutions were no longer aimed at reducing the number of Christians and partial Islamization and assimilation of the population. Their task was complete Islamization and the destruction of the Georgian national identity.
During this period, even the heavy burden of jizya was no longer an alternative to accepting Islam. Death was the only one alternative. Those Georgians who accepted Islam are forced to give up their writing, culture and then their language.
B. Luke Andguladze, tells Zachary Chichinadze the story, which was later included in his book:
"When Russia took Batumi, I started working, first in Batumi and then was sent to the Guria police. I took part in the annexation of such areas of Adjara as the Liban Gorge and Murguli, where we met many old people who told us the following story: Three generations have passed since the Artvin region went through Islamization, despite the courageous resistance of the Georgians there. A large Ottoman army executed more than 1400 Georgians for their loyalty to Christianity and their bodies were dropped into the Chorokhi River. According to old people's story, it happened in the 1740s ".
It should be noticed that when Zachary Chichinadze writes his book "Islamization of Western Georgia", the borders of Adjara were different than now. As a result of the Russian-Turkish wars, under the peace treaty concluded in San Stefano in 1878, the Russian Empire included not only the lands of modern Adjara but also the historical Georgian lands of Tao-Klarjeti, Yerusheti, Zegani, and others. Therefore, it seemed that the period of Turkish slavery for these lands, the Georgians, and other peoples living there was over. It continued until 1921.
Apparently, mentioned Luka Andguladze was serving in the police at that time.
However, in 1921, already by the power of the Bolsheviks, who at that time supported the Ataturk regime in Turkey, the Treaty of Kars was concluded with Turkey, according to which more than half of the disputed lands were given to the Turks, including the previously conquered Artvin, Tao-Klarjeti, the bigger part of Zegani, and others. Today, only dilapidated Georgian churches remind of the Georgian history in these lands. But besides earthly history, there is also a history of Heaven written in the books of the Life of the Lord Himself. And there, in the Kingdom of Christ, before the throne of the Creator, one thousand four hundred Artvin martyrs, pray for peace, for Georgia, for the native city of Artvin. And even though the Georgian speech has already been forgotten in it, but in place of its destroyed churches, the Christian worship continues to be performed by the unseen angels.