Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1884
to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Constantinople , December 15, 1883. (Received Jan. 10, 1884.)
Sir: Respectfully referring to my dispatch No. 298, dated the 15th of November last, I have the honor to transmit for the further information of the Department, regarding the complaint of Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, a copy of a letter received recently from the former, describing his identification of Moussa Bey, their principal assailant, and of the latter’s subsequent release. I send also a copy with translation of a note from the minister for foreign affairs, dated the 8th instant, in reply to mine of the 15th of November last, and of my answer to the same dated the 13th instant. * * *
I have informed the minister for foreign affairs that I should refer the matter to my Government.
The legation must now suspend further action in this case until it shall receive such instructions as it may please the Department to give.
I am, &c.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
Mr. Knapp to Mr. Heap.
My Dear Sir: * * * I have been requested by Mr. Eyres, of Van, to send him details of my identifying the Kurdish assassin who so severely wounded Dr. Reynolds, and beat and robbed both him and me on May 22. Thinking it might be due to justice and yourself to send you the same account, I will here give it. On the [Page 533] 29th of September last I made a call upon Arif Effendi, our Voli Pasha, and during the interview he took occasion to say that we had reported to the officials at Constantinople that one Moussa Bey was the man who attacked Dr. Reynolds last May. He said that, according to instructions received, he would summon him, and if I did not recognize him as the assailant he should let him go; otherwise he would detain him as a prisoner.
On October 4 it was rumored that Moussa Bey went to the mountains south of his village, and that word was brought back by the biubachi that the Bey was ill and could not come.
This officer was sent again with specific instructions to bring the Bey without fail.
On October 22, just five months to a day since the assault, I was summoned to appear before the Moodier Ocmoomy to identify the assailant.
Before going I called Hohannes Agh, our Protestant arzkevbet, and inquired if he thought it was necessary for me to go; could I not require that Moussa Bey be brought to my door, as were the four prisoners. I was told that these prisoners were subsequently released on their paying a bribe of two Turkish pounds each a few days after the tragedy. He told me that Moussa Bey would submit himself to be flayed alive rather than condescend to come. He furthermore sold me that I was bound to answer but one question, “Do you recognize the assailant among those brought before you?”
I felt quite ill from a severe cold and should like to have been released from going. However, taking Baron Havatvoa as interpreter, and two servants, we mounted our horses and in twenty minutes reached the court-house.
Oh arriving I soon saw that I was to be questioned the same “Tadakhaz” or judge before whom I was summoned on this matter June 11. What I supposed would take only ten minutes proved to be an hour and a half. I will state a few questions asked me, from which it appeared to my interpreter and me they were befriending Moussa Bey.
First, the Tadakhaz said to me, “It is some five months since the assault; have you an opinion who committed it?”
I replied, “I do not know who did it.”
“But you have telegraphed your ambassador that Moussa Bey, the son of Meza Bey, and two others named,” giving the names.
I replied, “I have sent no such names; it is possible my associate has,” meaning Dr. Reynolds.
Another question, “Do you know your assailants?”
I replied, “I might not recognize all of them, but I thought I should the one who used the sword.”
After several more questions, he said: “We have summoned your assailants; do you wish me to bring them before you? “I replied in the affirmative. Four, I think, were ushered into the court-room attended by their guards and several spectators. I scanned the face of each very closely, and pointing my finger to one, said,” That is the man, for I recognize his face.” He had come in with an affected unconcern, but when I pointed my ringer at him his countenance suddenly blanched. He was of medium height; had a florid complexion; his mustache of a light sandy color, and the hair of his head a shade darker; of a full face, and apparently near thirty years of age. He had on a large, gay head-dress of many colors, a dark-colored broadcloth frock coat, and high-heeled shoes, but “I see that he has on a different kind of dress,” said I. To which the “Tadakhaz” replied, “That is not possible, for the one he has now is his customary dress.” I should have said, “that is the man who used the sword.” The “Tadakhaz “wrote down his name as Moussa Bey, son of Meza Bey, as I was subsequently told by my interpreter. I was asked, “Did you not see this man at your stopping place the night before the attack?” I replied, “No.” At this, the man left his companions and ascended the three or four steps, that took him to the platform, and stood by the side of the chair in which I was seated. I was then asked, “How was it that he should have come into the room where you were, and you not see him?” I replied, “The room was very dark; the light of the only tallow candle was dim. I was very much fatigued, and I did not pretend to notice any one, and on drinking the tea the doctor gave me, I immediately lay down to rest.” Upon this moment my assailant interrupted me by saying, “That was strange, that you did not see me.” Whereupon he was told to be silent.
I was repeatedly cautioned to see that I was not mistaken in the man, at which I told the court the particulars of the appearance of the three assailants as they walked in Indian file up the hill to meet us singing a weird song. How I then marked his features, and then said to myself I should carry the expression of that face to my grave, and that I thought I could not be mistaken.
Of the three others brought before me, I did not recognize any one as our other assailants, but I was afterward told that one was Moussa Bey’s servant, and the other two were strangers brought in purposely to perplex me.
After the prisoners were taken out the “Tadakhaz” turned around and feeling that [Page 534] he was going to trip me by a question, said, “On May 23, when your deposition was taken, you said that Moussa Bey called upon you the night of May 21. How is it that you now say you never saw him?” I replied, “I have never seen him to know him, and even now I do not know him by name. When the deposition you refer to was taken both Dr. Reynolds and I were present. He might have said that Moussa Bey called upon us, but I then made no such statement.”
There was one Hagab Effendi, brother of Arides Effendi, present in court, of which he is a member. My assailant was his guest, of whom he stands in awe, and this Hagab plied me with questions with the view of puzzling me and so defending the assailant.
On returning home I inquired of Baron Havatova, my interpreter, what was the name of the man I pointed out as Dr. Reynolds’s assailant. He replied, Moussa Bey.” Till then I was positive that it was he.
During this investigation there was a man in the ante-room who told my servant that he believed Moussa Bey was the assailant, and added, “he murdered my brother.” I have been told that Moussa Bey, while a boy, murdered a Kurd. It is the prevailing opinion that he is the man who attacked the doctor.
He was not imprisoned while here, and after appearing in our streets a few days he was allowed to return to his home under the pretense, I am told, of producing the real assailant, he saying that I have mistaken the man.
Please express to General Wallace, when you write to him, my sincere thanks for his sympathizing letter; and I pray that he may meet with abundant success in his attempt to protect the American missionaries from the abuse of Turkish subjects.
I remain, &c.,
Missionary of the A. B. C. F. M.
Aarifi Pasha to Mr. Heap.
Sublime Porte , December 8, 1883.
Monsieur le Chargé d’Affaires: I had the honor to receive the two notes you were pleased to address to me on the 7th and 12th of November last, No. 185, relating to the act of aggression of which Messrs. Reynolds and Knapp, American missionaries, were the subject, in the neighborhood of Ghuarié.
The governor-general of the vilayet of Bitlis, of whom explanations had been demanded on the subject, has just telegraphed to us that the judicial authorities of the province, far from giving evidence of the least negligence, are acting with the greatest celerity in the examination of the affair.
Moussa Bey, designated by the plaintiff as the leader of the aggressors, was immediately delivered into the hands of the authorities. As to Osmon and Hassan, accused of complicity, it has been impossible so far to arrest them, their domicile not having been discovered. Mr. Knapp, on being questioned on this subject, has declared that he did not know them and that he had no complaint against them. The tribunal before which the case was brought has, in consequence, been obliged to write to the attorney-general at Van to obtain the necessary information from Dr. Reynolds, who is at present in that town.
Finally, Arif Pasha gives the assurance that nothing will be neglected to hasten the course of justice.
In bringing these facts to your knowledge, I seize, &c.,
Mr. Heap to Aarifi Pasha.
Constantinople , December 13, 1883.
Monsieur le Ministre: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note that your highness was pleased to address to me on the 8th instant, No. 72953, 37, relative to the explanations which have reached the imperial ministry on the subject of the aggression against Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, American missionaries, in May last, in the neighborhood of Ghuarié.[Page 535]
I greatly regret that my duty obliges me to inform your highness that the reports I have received on the subject do not agree with those that have been made to the imperial ministry.
Although it is true that Moussa Bey, the principal assailant of Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, and who inflicted the nearly mortal wounds on the latter, from which he is not yet recovered, was requested to appear before the tribunal at Bitlis, to be confronted with Mr. Knapp, by whom he was identified as one of his assailants, it is not the less true that instead of being delivered up to justice, as stated by Arif Pasha, he was allowed to return to his country upon promising to send to Bitlis the person who, according to him, was the real culprit, for he naturally claimed to be entirely guiltless of the crime.
It is with pain that I must state that the proceedings of the vilayet of Bitlis in the course of this unfortunate affair have exhibited the most indescribable inertia and indifference. Moreover the unfortunate reputation of Arif Pasha gives us but little reason to hope that the assailants of Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds will be brought to justice as long as this functionary is maintained in the post of which he has shown himself so unworthy, the more so as nearly seven months have elapsed without any serious steps being taken to this end.
This legation having been unsuccessful, notwithstanding all its efforts, in obtaining any reparation for the outrages of which my fellow-citizens have been the victims, the only course remaining for me to take, your highness, is to protest energetically against the imperial authorities of the vilayet of Bitlis, who have so entirely neglected their duty, and to transmit to my Government a report on this deplorable affair, with all the accounts relating to it.
I beg, &c.,