No. 415.
Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 317.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to the Department, for its consideration, a copy of a note which will be delivered to his highness, the minister of foreign affairs as soon as a translation of it can be prepared. [Page 538] The subject is the murderous assault committed last year by Kurds upon Rev. Mr. Knapp and Dr. Reynolds, the particulars of which have been heretofore given you.

The decision to resort to demands for indemnity in these cases is the result of much careful reflection, and a firm belief that there is no other method of accomplishing redress. A reading of the course pursued in the matter by the Turkish authorities, high and low, will, it is believed, bring the Department to the same conclusion, and to an approval of the step I have assumed to take.

Very respectfully, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 317.]

Mr. Wallace to Aarifi Pasha.

note verbale.

The legation of the United States of America has the honor to invite the attention of his highness, the minister of foreign affairs, to the matters following:

By note No. 167, June 13, 1883, the legation informed his highness that two American citizens, traveling in the vilayet of Bitlis, had been set upon by Kurds, robbed, and left to die, and that the governor-general of the vilayet had manifested the most singular indifference about the affair, and might be fairly charged with responsibility for the escape of the malefactors. The suggestion was then made that his highness would serve the cause of humanity and justice by ordering the most energetic measures to be taken for the apprehension of the robbers.

By a communication, No. 71235, June 13, 1883, his highness was good enough to answer the note of the legation, and give the pleasing intelligence that the governor-general had succeeded in discovering the goods taken from the two gentlemen, and that the robbers had been arrested and delivered up to justice. This information his highness reported as derived from the governor-general.

This report the legation found it necessary to correct, and for that purpose it addressed a second note to his highness the minister of foreign affairs, No. 179, dated September 10, 1883, declaring that the robbers had not been arrested, and that the goods and money taken from Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds had been returned to them, hut in small parts. Under impression that it was yet possible to obtain the powerful assistance of the Sublime Porte in bringing the thieves and assassins to justice, the legation in the same note proceeded to give the full particulars of the affair, both those connected with the assault and those descriptive of the action of the governor-general. Of the assault, it remarked that Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, accepting the assurance of the governor-general that the roads were perfectly safe, set out on their journey without a guard of zaptiehs. They put up for a night at a house where there was present Moreoussa Bey, son of Meza Bey, an influential Kurdish chief. When they took their coffee they failed to send a cup of it to the said Moussa, who, feeling himself insulted by the inattention, took four assistants and next day waylaid the gentlemen, one of whom, Mr. Knapp, they beat with clubs until they supposed him dead. Moussa Bey, with his own hand, cut down Dr. Reynolds, giving him ten cuts with a sword. The two were then bound and dragged into the bushes and there left to die. That there might be no excuse, such as that the murderers were unknown, the legation gave his highness the names of the subordinate assassins and their places of abode, Sherif Oglon Osmon and Iskan Oglon Hassan, both of the villege of Movnok. A third one was pointed out as the servant of Moussa Bey, living in the village of Kabiaa. Of the action of the governor-general the legation said further that when the affair was reported to him he made a show of action by sending zaptiehs to arrest the robbers, but, singular to remark, he selected Meza Bey, the father of Moussa, to take charge of the party. Going to the village of Auzont, Meza Bey pointed out four Kurds of another tribe as the guilty men, took them into custody and carried them for indentification to Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, who said they were not the assailants.

During the night, in Aozou, a bundle was thrown through a window into a room occupied by the police, which on examination proved to contain a portion of the stolen goods. With this the governor-general rested from his efforts and dispatched to [Page 539] his highness the minister of foreign affairs, that the stolen goods were recovered and returned, and the felons captured and punished. This report the legation took the liberty of informing his highness was not true, also that the chief of the assassins, Moussa Bey, was still at large; and to emphasize its statement, the legation further said to his highness that the details it communicated were current through all the region of Bitlis, having been first given out by Moussa himself. The legation then, in the same note, exposed the maladministration of the governor-general in language plain as respect for his highness, the minister, and for the Sublime Porte would permit, and suggested as the only means of accomplishing anything like redress that a brave, impartial officer be sent to Bitlis to investigate the conduct of the governor and take the affair in his own hands. “Such a step,” it was added, “might serve to save the lives of many Christians,” and it was further represented that “could the assassins be brought to just sentence it would unquestionably lessen the demand for indemnity which otherwise it would be the duty of the legation to present against the Imperial Government in this connection.”

On November 7, 1883, the legation of the United States, by a third note, No. 184, communicated to his highness, the minister of foreign affairs, that the governor-general of Bitlis had confronted four persons with Mr. Knapp for identification, and that that gentleman had recognized Moussa Bey as one of those who had robbed and wounded him. The legation of the United States then expressed a hope that the minister of foreign affairs would give proper orders for bringing Moussa Bey and his companions in crime before the tribunals for trial.

Still later, on November 12, 1883, the legation of the United States addressed a fourth note, No. 185, to his highness, the minister of foreign affairs, detailing again the circumstances of the attempted murder of Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds, and representing the untrustworthiness of the governor-general by charging that Moussa Bey had already obtained from him assurances of immunity in the event of a trial and conviction.

His highness, the minister, was then requested that, if it was decided to maintain the governor-general at his post, orders be given for the transfer of the criminals to Constantinople for trial.

The three notes last named of the legation of the United States have not been answered by his highness, the minister of foreign affairs, except in a note, dated December 8, 1883, in which he is pleased to renew assurances based upon telegrams from the governor-general, which are utterly unreliable.

Wherefore, abandoning hope of justice through the governor-general of Bitlis, and the judicial tribunals of the empire, the legation of the United States finds itself compelled to change its form of application for redress, and demand of the Sublime Porte indemnity in behalf of Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds for the former £1,500, and for the latter, because of the more serious nature of his injuries, £2,000.