Mr. Goodenow to Mr. Fish.
Constantinople, April 7, 1874. (Received May 1)
Sir: Referring to your dispatch No. 175, in regard to the draft of three Turks professing to be Christians into the military service of the Porte, I have the honor to say that I have been informed by Mr. Locock, Her Britannic Majesty’s chargé d’affaires, that more than, two months ago Sir Henry Elliot, the British embassador, obtained a promise from the Turkish minister of foreign affairs that orders should be sent for the release of the three soldiers, but that their consul at Damascus informs him that such orders have not been received, and that the soldiers have not been discharged. Mr. Locock also informed me that, while two of the three persons are actuallydoing military duty, the third is kept in prison, and that it is undoubtedly a clear case of persecution for opinion’s sake.
Mr. Locock at the same time said that, as the question is one between the Turkish government and its own subjects, he has no right to interfere in it officially. Although by the charter of liberties granted by Sultan Abdul Medjid to his subjects in 1856, called the Hatti-Humayoun, “full liberty of worship is guaranteed to every religious profession,” and it is provided that “no one can be forced to change his religion,” yet, by the treaty of Paris of 1856, to which Great Britain was a party, [Page 1156] perfect independence in regulating its internal affairs is guaranteed to Turkey.
The German minister informed me that he had received no instructions from his government on the subject.
I renew the assurance given in a previous dispatch, that on my part no effort by co-operation with the British chargés d’affaires, or otherwise, Shall be wanting to secure the desired result.
I have, &c,