Mr. Gresham to Mr. Riddle.

No. 174.]

Sir: I transmit herewith a copy of a dispatch (No. 8 of the 26th ultimo) from the consul at Beirut in regard to the prolonged detention and final expulsion from Turkish territory of the American citizens, Mr. Arakjinjian and Mrs. Toprahanian, by the authorities at Alexandretta.

Although Mr. Gibson reports having brought the circumstances to the attention of the legation through the consulate-general, his present dispatch so clearly narrates the course of the incident as to make it suitable for preservation on your files.

[Page 773]

With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 167, of 30th ultimo, on the same subject, I desire to lay special stress on the extraordinary harshness of the action of the caimacam of Alexandretta, who, in the face of the orders from Constantinople to permit these unfortunate persons to depart in accordance with their long obstructed plans and at the urgent solicitation of the United States minister, appears to have arbitrarily and with gratuitous cruelty commanded their expulsion within one hour’s time. This circumstance abundantly justifies the comments on the whole proceeding contained in the Department’s note to Mavroyeni Bey of March 27, and warrants the President’s expectation that the Porte will hasten to disavow the act of its local agents and tender to the injured parties redress for the needless wrong they have suffered.

I am, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.
[Inclosure in No. 174.]

Mr. Gibson to Mr. Uhl.

No. 8.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that Mr. Frederic Poche, United States consular agent at Aleppo, notified this office in a letter dated the 2d December, 1893, that two naturalized American citizens, Mr. Jacob Arakjinjian and Mrs. Catherine Toprahanian, native born of Armenia, had been arrested by the local authorities of Alexandretta, and, without any alleged motive, prevented them from sailing to the United States. Mr. Poche, who was informed by wire of this incident by the interested parties, considered it necessary, in order to avoid delays and additional telegraphic expenses, to address direct to our legation at Constantinople the telegram of which the following is a literal translation:

American Legation, Constantinople.

Jacob Arakjinjian and Catherine Toprahanian bearing passports from legation dated October 10, 1893, Nos. 195 and 196, are forbidden to depart for New York by the local authorities of Alexandretta. Please obtain telegraphic order to Aleppo Vilayet to permit them to pass.

Consular Agent.

Notwithstanding the steps taken by the United States consular agent in Aleppo, this consulate made it its duty to report the case with full details to the Honorable W. B. Hess, ex-consul-general at Constantinople, with request to use his kind offices and secure through the United States legation peremptory orders from the Sublime Porte for the release of Jacob Arakjinjian and Mrs. Toprahanian and her children.

Later on Mr. Poche informed this office that in obedience to telegraphic instructions addressed to him by the honorable Minister Terrell he asked the vali of Aleppo to declare to him what were the charges brought against the American parties that gave rise to the oppressive measures taken to their detriment by the caimacam of Alexandretta. In reply to Mr. Poche’s communication the vali of Aleppo notified him that the vilayet had no official knowledge that the persons in question had repudiated their Ottoman nationality, and consequently the caimacam of Alexandretta, not being aware of their real status, considered it his duty to detain them pending the receipt by him of some reliable information on their account from the authorities of Diarbekir, and that [Page 774] upon the receipt of the same they would be treated in conformity with the expected orders and the regulations in force.

The true facts in the case would, however, appear to be as follows: Mr. Arakjinjian and Mrs. Toprahanian being Armenians, the authorities of Diarbekir declined either to visa their American passports or to furnish them with a Turkish voyage teskeré. In the absence of the latter document the caimacam of Alexandretta thought that he would be justified in preventing them from leaving the country and sailing for New York. It is notorious how the Armenian population is being suspected, worried, and harassed by the agents of the Turkish Government, and it can be easily understood why they do not favorably countenance the emigration of Armenian refugees to the United States.

In this connection it is worth reporting that the caimacam of Alexandretta, after taking possession of the passports of Mr. Arakjinjian and Mrs. Toprahanian, attempted to subject them to interrogatories which they positively objected to undergo without the assistance of the consular dragoman, as required by treaties and regulations. In consequence of this refusal they were placed under the inspection of a police agent to watch them in their domicile and detain them therein.

On the 9th instant intelligence was received from Mr. Poche to the effect that after prolonged and much complicated negotiations between the United States legation at Constantinople, the Sublime Porte, himself, and the governor-general of Aleppo, the latter—thanks to the energetic pressure which was brought to bear by the honorable Minister Terrell upon the Turkish Government—has at last issued positive orders to the caimacam of Alexandretta to release the Americans detained by him and to let them continue their journey to the United States.

The caimacam, however, instead of carrying out implicitly and in good faith the instructions transmitted to him, summoned Mr. Arakjinjian and Mrs. Toprahanian and informed them that they were allowed but one hour to leave the country and on board a Turkish steamer that was in the port. Having spent all their money during their long detention, and being afraid to go on board an Ottoman vessel, the distressed parties in question, in the absence of a United States consular representative at Alexandretta, appealed to Mr. Daniel Walker, agent of the American Stamford Manufacturing Company in that city, who took up their cause and succeeded after much difficulty in persuading the caimacam to allow them sufficient time to get ready for the voyage.

In conclusion, it affords me pleasure to be able to report to the Department, from verbal communication recently obtained from Mr. Walker that Mr. Arakjinjian, Mrs. Toprahanian and her children have at last left Alexandretta on board an English steamer, bound for Alexandria, on their way to the United States.

All of the foregoing facts have been duly brought to the notice of our consulate-general at Constantinople and through it to the knowledge of the honorable minister, Mr. Terrell, who has taken a deep interest in the concerns of the American parties referred to above.

In this connection it is most appropriate to observe that the recent visit of the United States flagship Chicago, with Hear-Admiral Erben on board, to the port of Alexandretta proved to be a most fitting close to this incident by showing that the United States Government is ready to fully support and back its representatives with the magnificent men-of-war placed at its disposition and to protect the rights and interest of its citizens residing abroad.

I am, etc.,

Thomas R. Gibson,
U. S. Consul.