Report of the Secretary of State.
Washington , December 19, 1895.
The undersigned, Secretary of State, has had the honor to receive, by reference from the President, a resolution adopted in the Senate of the United States on December 4, 1895, as follows:
Resolved, That the President he requested, if in his judgment not incompatible with the public interest, to communicate to the Senate all information which has been received by him or by the State Department in regard to injuries indicted upon the persons or property of American citizens in Turkey, and in regard to the condition of affairs there in reference to the oppression or cruelties practiced upon the Armenian subjects of the Turkish Government; also, to inform the Senate whether all the American consuls in the Turkish Empire are at their posts of duty, and if not, to state any circumstances which have interfered with the performance of the duties of such consuls.
In compliance with the direction of the President, the undersigned has the honor to submit the following report embracing the information possessed by the Department of State on the subjects mentioned in the resolution:
The period of time intended to be covered by the inquiry of the Senate is not stated, but it would appear to embrace the duration of the present political troubles in Armenia and Kurdistan, for which a convenient starting point exists in the massacres at Moosh in August, 1894.
Within that period, while frequent apprehension has been expressed for the safety of citizens of the United States legitimately sojourning in various parts of the country in question and in other quarters of the Turkish Empire where disturbances have occurred or have been feared, the energetic demands of the United States minister at Constantinople and the prompt response of the Imperial authorities in issuing peremptory orders to the local civil and military authorities and in furnishing armed protection in case of need have thus far averted physical injury to any American citizen through lawless outbreaks.
The number of citizens of the United States resident in the Turkish Empire is not accurately known. According to latest advices, there are 172 American missionaries, dependents of various mission boards in the United States, scattered over Asia Minor. There are also numbers of our citizens engaged in business or practicing professions in different parts of the Empire. Besides these, more or less persons, originally subjects of Turkey and since naturalized in the United States, have returned to the country of their birth and are temporarily residing there. The whole number of persons comprising these several classes can not be accurately estimated, but, the families of such citizens being considered, can hardly be less than five or six hundred, and may possibly exceed that total.[Page 1257]
Outside of the capital and a few commercial seaport towns, the bulk of this large American element is found in the interior of Asia Minor and Syria, remote from the few consular establishments maintained by this Government in that quarter, inaccessible except by difficult journeys, and isolated from each other by the broken character of the mountain country and the absence of roads. Under these circumstances and in the midst of the alarming agitation which for more than a year past has existed in Asia Minor, it has been no slight task for the representative of the United States to follow the interests of those whose defense necessarily falls to his care, to demand and obtain the measures indispensable to their safety, and to act instantly upon every appeal for help in view of real or apprehended peril. It is, however, gratifying to bear testimony to the energy and promptness of the minister in dealing with every grievance brought to his notice, and his foresight in anticipating complaints and securing timely protection in advance of actual need. The efforts of the minister have had the moral support of the presence of naval vessels of the United States on the Syrian and Adanan coasts from time to time as occasion required, and at the present time the San Francisco and Marblehead are about to be joined by the Minneapolis, which has lately been ordered to the eastern waters of the Mediterranean, the squadron being under the command of Rear-Admiral Selfridge, an officer whose record indicates the necessary discretion in dealing with whatever emergencies may arise.
While the physical safety of all citizens of the United States appears up to the present date to have been secured, their property has, on at least two recent occasions, been destroyed in the course of local outbursts at Harpoot and Marash.
The details of the Harpoot destruction have so far been only meagerly reported, although it took place about the middle of November. It is stated that the buildings at that place were set on tire separately by Koords and citizens, in the presence of the Turkish soldiery, during an Armenian riot. Besides the chapel, girls’ theological school, and seminary building, the ladies’ house, boarding house, and residences of three American missionaries were burned, the aggregate loss on the buildings, personal property, stock, fixtures, and apparatus being estimated in the neighborhood of 8100,000. The United States minister has notified the Porte that the Turkish Government will be held responsible for the immediate and full satisfaction of all injuries on that score.
The American Missionary School of Science at Marash was burned during a sanguinary outbreak on November 19. The value of the property destroyed has not been ascertained, but after prompt investigation the minister will make like demand for adequate indemnity.
Apart from these reported instances of injury through mob violence and lawlessness, several cases of individual citizens having suffered in life and person in Turkish dominions seem to fall within the purview of the resolution.
In May, 1894, Frank Lenz, a citizen of the United States, while making a bicycle tour of Asia, disappeared shortly after crossing from Persia into Koordistan, under circumstances indicating his murder. Repeated demands for investigation, and inquiries on and near the spot with the efficient aid of the British consul at Erzerum, disclosed that the unfortunate young man, while traveling alone and unescorted, had been murdered at or near Tchelkani, not far from Alashgerd, by natives, who had appropriated his scanty belongings. Later, through private enterprise and on behalf of the family of Lenz, Mr. W. L. Sachtleben undertook an investigation with a view to the discovery [Page 1258] and Christian sepulture of Lenz’s remains and the collection of such evidence as might further implicate his murderers. The United States minister assisted this investigation in every possible way, asking suitable escort to protect the investigator and demanding peremptory orders to bring the murderers to justice.
After characteristic delays Mr. Sachtleben was at last enabled to visit Alashgerd, in company with the local governor, Shakir Pasha, as a member of a commission of eight, which was deputed to investigate the murder and take all necessary action. The facts were established by testimony and by the circumstantial finding of fragments of the victim’s bicycle and personal belongings, and at last accounts some five or six persons, Koords and Armenians, were to be put on trial for the murder.
The case of George Webber deserves attention. This unfortunate man, a naturalized citizen of the United States, of Bavarian origin, 70 years old, was capriciously arrested at Konia, taken under circumstances of great hardship, at first by railway, then on foot, and afterwards, when physically exhausted, in a rough cart, to Broussa on March 28, 1895, and thrown into prison, where he died during the night from the effects of his hard treatment, without medical attendance. The minister promptly sent his secretary of legation to Broussa to examine the matter, and found that the arrest of Webber was apparently causeless 5 that his possession of a United States passport was disregarded, and that his death was due to the fatigue and privations to which he had been wantonly subjected. Demand was accordingly made for a searching investigation and the punishment of any officials found in fault, the removal of the delinquent governor being specifically asked. These just demands have not so far borne fruit; and they will be further insisted upon, with the addition of a requisition for a suitable indemnity, should the facts elicited by the minister’s inquiry be confirmed.
Another incident has served to attract notice: On the night of the 4th of August last the premises of Dr. Christie, principal of St. Paul’s Institute at Tarsus, who was spending the summer months at the neighboring village of Namroun, were invaded by an armed mob, obviously collected in pursuance of a preconcerted plan, and an outrageous attack made on a defenseless native servant of Dr. Christie and on some students of the institute who were then at Namroun. The authors of this brutal attack were abundantly identified, and through the prompt intervention of the United States consul at Beirut and the consular agent at Mersine, the nearest port, a number of arrests were made. Notwithstanding the peremptory demands of the United States minister for simple justice, the assailants, when taken before the local judge at Tarsus, were released. So grave did this miscarriage of justice appear that an early occasion was taken to send the Marblehead to Mersine to investigate the incident and lend all proper moral aid to the consular representatives of the United States in pressing for due redress. Their efforts to this end were most cordially seconded by the mutessarif (prefect) of Mersine, and on October 28 last the accused, to the number of eight, were brought to trial at Tarsus and convicted upon the evidence, subsequently confessing their guilt. Having established his rights, and in view of the dismissal of the Tarsus judge who had conducted the preliminary inquest, and a promise to degrade the incompetent mudir of Namroun, Dr. Christie interceded with the court for clemency to the individual culprits, upon whom light sentences of imprisonment were passed.[Page 1259]
The signal rebuke administered in high places where responsibility really existed and was abused, coupled with the establishment of the important principle that American domicile in Turkey may not be violated with impunity, renders the conclusion of this incident satisfactory.
Toward the end of January, 1895, an American citizen named Stupe, of German birth, was killed in the streets of Constantinople by an insane Turk, who committed a number of other murders before being captured. The assassin was tried and sentenced to death, but on appeal the court of cassation reversed the sentence and awarded fifteen years’ imprisonment. Against this action the minister properly protested, the American dragoman not having been present at the appellate proceedings, as allowed by treaty. The protest was without avail, but in view of the gratifying circumstance that His Majesty the Sultan had, of his own initiative and very soon after the killing, accorded a life pension of 1,200 piasters (about $525) to the widow of the murdered man, no occasion for further pressing this particular case was perceived. This Government will, however, insist upon its right to be represented by the presence of its dragoman at every stage of all criminal proceedings against an Ottoman subject where an American citizen has been injured.
Besides the foregoing cases of physical injury to the persons of American citizens, or invasion of domiciliary rights, the language of the Senate resolution may be construed as covering the cases of arrest of such citizens and of proceedings against them in violation of treaty rights. A number of instances of this character have occurred. As the subject is a development of the long-standing contention between the United States and Turkey touching the true intent and construction of the fourth article of the treaty of 1830, in relation to the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States over its citizens committing offenses in Turkey, its elaborate discussion in this place is neither practicable nor opportune. It suffices to say that, although the treaty in terms gives to the ministers and consuls authority and power to punish American offenders and absolutely excludes their imprisonment by the Turkish authorities, the Ottoman Government, while admitting to this extent the English rendering of the treaty, has on frequent occasions assumed to imprison citizens of the United States on criminal charges and denied the right of the agents of this Government to effect their punishment. A fruitful source of such assertion of authority is found in the case of persons of Armenian origin naturalized in the United States and returning within the territorial jurisdiction of Turkey under circumstances suggesting their complicity in the revolutionary schemes alleged to be rife in Asia Minor.
Holding, as it must and should, that no distinction can exist under the statutes of the United States between native and naturalized citizens, so that it is as clearly the right and duty of this Government to extend the full measure of its protection to the one as to the other, and finding neither in the treaty nor in our jurisdictional legislation any distinction as to the character of the criminal offense charged—but on the contrary seeing that by our laws our ministers and consuls have express jurisdiction over charges of insurrection and rebellion when committed in the foreign country by American citizens as well as over lesser offenses of a similar character—this Government is unable to forego its right in the premises and can not relinquish jurisdiction over any citizen, even though after naturalization he return to his native land and identify himself with its political conspirations. The right to try and punish our citizens committing offenses in Turkey has been so uniformly and ably upheld by the successive Secretaries of State since [Page 1260] contention on the subject was first broached in 1862, that no diminution of our claim can be considered at this important juncture. Consequently, the United States minister at Constantinople has been instructed to claim all rights under the fourth article of the treaty of 1830, and to offer to try any American citizen charged with insurrection, rebellion, sedition, or like offense, or, in the event of such offer being refused, to demand the release of the accused. Inasmuch, however, as this Government does not contest the paramount right of a sovereign state to exclude or deport for adequate cause, and in a proper manner, aliens whose resort to its territories may be pernicious to the safety of the State, the release of such persons upon condition of their leaving the country is not gainsaid.
To illustrate the treatment of this class of cases and the results, three instances of recent date are in point.
On July 1, 1895, Krekor Arakelian, son of John Arakelian, a citizen of the United States, residing in Fresno, Cal., was arrested, in company with some 150 others, at Marsovan, on the ground, as was asserted, of complicity in the assassination of one Gar a bet Agha Kouyounijan by Armenian revolutionists. Krekor Arakelian was a mere youth, a student in Anatolia College at Marsovan, bearing a passport issued by the United States legation in Turkey, and his imprisonment appeared to be on the merest suspicion. The consul at Sivas intervened in his behalf, and the minister at Constantinople made energetic representations to the Porte against the detention of a citizen of the United States on a criminal charge. On the 21st of August Mr. Terrell telegraphed to the Department that he had been informed by the Porte that Arakelian had been released upon a decree dismissing the charge against him. He went to Constantinople, and, on being notified by the police that his presence in the Empire was objectionable and that the authorities viewed him with suspicion on account of compromising documents which had been found in his possession, he quitted the country early in September.
On or about September 6, 1895, Mardiros Mooradian, a native of Armenia, naturalized as a citizen of the United States at Lynn, Mass., on December 21, 1894, and bearing a State Department passport issued five days later, was arrested on landing at Constantinople, on suspicion of being a revolutionary emissary. In his possession were forty-one letters and papers in the Armenian language, indicating his representative connection with the Hentzak, or Huntchaguist Society, a secret organization of Armenians in England and the United States. After several day’s confinement, Mooradian was released under surveillance, and the incriminating papers were delivered to the United States minister for translation and examination. No offense appeared chargeable against him except on account of his relation to the revolutionary Huntchaguists, and, in the absence of proof of any overt act committed in Turkish territory, the minister demanded his instant liberty on the ground that his imprisonment was unauthorized, whereupon Mooradian was surrendered to the legation, “to be kept from correspondence until he could be sent out of the country. A disposition on the part of the minister for foreign affairs to assert jurisdiction over Mooradian on the plea that he was still an Ottoman subject, because not having obtained the Sultan’s consent to his naturalization abroad, was promptly met by Mr. Terrell and was not afterwards insisted upon.
As the telegraphed conditions of Mooradian’s surrender seemed to imply his deportation through the agency of the representative of the United States, the minister was instructed by telegraph that he might [Page 1261] send the man away with his free assent, but that otherwise forcible deportation could only be performed by Turkish authority. It was then learned that Mooradian had gladly accepted the opportunity to depart, and had been sent, in company with the cavass of the legation, on board a steamer sailing for Athens on the 9th of September. This action was construed by the Department as merely indicating that the minister thereby sought to satisfy himself of Mooradian’s departure in good faith, but without constraint of any kind.
More protracted discussion than in the two foregoing instances attended the case of Melcoun Guedjian, which assumed importance as a test and precedent.
In August last 7 men were arrested in the vilayet of Haleb (Aleppo) and taken to the provincial capital charged, it appears, with belonging to a party of 23 armed revolutionists who had lately come from Cyprus, landing by stealth near the mouth of the Orontes. Among them was a young man named Melcoun Guedjian, naturalized in Boston, December 28, 1894, and a resident at the time of Lynn, Mass., who bore a United States passport, issued early in January last, and upon whose person was found a sum of £800 in money, alleged by him to be for the relief of the poor, together with compromising papers. He is said to have admitted more than three years’ membership of the Huntchaguist revolutionary society, and the circumstances under which he was arrested were, on his own showing, not entirely free from suspicion. Having clandestinely landed from a touching vessel, at Iskanderoun (Alexandretta), through bribery of a local boatman, he set out for the interior, and shortly afterwards was set upon and robbed by a large band of men. Being on horseback, he escaped to the mountains. A night or two later his horse was stolen, whereupon he made his way to Antioch and lodged a complaint against his assailants, presenting himself as an Englishman. Upon inquiry, in the presence of the British vice consul, the facts of his case were elicited and his arrest and removal to Aleppo followed, where he was held for trial upon an indictment charging seditious acts. The United States consular agent at Aleppo was denied access to the prisoner, and his application to the vali to inspect Guedjian’s passport was refused. On September 12 he was convicted by a Turkish court, no notice having been given to the consular agent, and without the presence of the dragoman of the agency. A sentence of imprisonment for one hundred and one years was imposed.
Upon learning of this proceeding, the minister demanded the facts in the case in order that he might ascertain whether by any act of armed resistance to Turkish authority Guedjian had forfeited his right to protection as an American citizen. While such a test might, perhaps, be morally applicable to the worthiness of an individual’s claim to bona fide conservation of allegiance to the country of adoption and respect to its laws, it could not operate to absolve him from its lawful jurisdiction. Mr. Terrell was accordingly instructed, September 20, 1895, that under our statutes consuls have extraterritorial jurisdiction over citizens accused of insurrection or rebellion against Turkey, or of a less offense of a similar character; that Guedjian’s act seemed to have been political conspiracy with enemies of Turkey in England; that his trial by a Turkish court without notice to the consul at Beirut or the consular agent at Aleppo was in violation of international right, and should be annulled; that his transfer to Constantinople should be asked; and that if accused of insurrection or rebellion committed in Turkish dominion, the minister or the consul should insist upon trying him. The minister presented these demands to the Porte on the 28th of September.[Page 1262]
The grand vizier issued repeated orders to the vali of Aleppo to send Guedjian to Constantinople, which the local authority failed to obey, while continuing to deny the consular agents access to the prisoner. Under date of October 28 Mr. Terrell peremptorily demanded that his repeated protests should be answered, and that the offending vali should be dismissed, intimating that in case no favorable response were promptly made he would be under the necessity of reporting to this Government his inability to obtain justice from that of Turkey, and asking authority to demand his passport. A more satisfactory treatment of this and other vexatiously delayed cases ensued and assurances of Guedjian’s removal to Constantinople were obtained. The minister, under the Department’s reiterated instructions, continued to press for the delivery of Guedjian to him for trial. On December 3 he telegraphed that Guedjian had been delivered to him, and that the vali of Aleppo had been removed from office, thus closing the incident. The Department is not yet advised whether the Porte has consented to Guedjian’s trial by our minister, or whether, as in Mooradian’s case, it requires him to quit the country.
By its concluding paragraph the Senate resolution calls for information as to “whether all the American consuls in the Turkish Empire are at their posts of duty, and if not, to state any circumstances which have interfered with the performance of the duties of such consuls.”
The consular establishment of the United States in the dominions of Turkey comprises, as principal officers, a consulate-general at Constantinople, an agency and consulate-general at Cairo, and seven consulates—at Bagdad, Beirut, Erzeroum, Harpoot, Jerusalem, Sivas, and Smyrna, respectively. Under these main offices are twenty-three consular agencies, of which three, at Bassorah (under Bagdad) and at Assouan and Candia (under Cairo), are vacant. The remaining agents, most of whom are business residents of their respective localities and, with one exception, foreigners, are so far as is known present at their posts of duty and officially performing their official functions. The consulate at Bagdad is vacant, through resignation of the late incumbent, its business being conducted by the vice-consul. The other principal offices at Constantinople, Cairo, Beirut, Jerusalem, Sivas, and Smyrna were, at last advices, in charge of their respective appointees.
The new consulates at Erzerum and Harpoot, for which provision was made in the diplomatic and consular appropriation act approved March 2, 1895, have not yet been established. In order that those offices might be competently inaugurated, without delaying until suitable permanent appointments could be determined upon, they were provisionally filled by issuing vice-consular commissions to two capable and experienced employees of the Department of State, Mr. Robert S. Chilton, jr., a clerk of class 4, being assigned to Erzeroum, and Mr. William Dulany Hunter, a commissioned consular clerk, to Harpoot. These gentlemen proceeded early last autumn1 to Constantinople, where application for their exequaturs had already been made by the legation. The Porte delayed their recognition on the apparently frivolous ground that no commerce exists in either town, although consulates of Great Britain and France2 are already established there despite the absence of trade with those countries.
On the 11th of September last Messrs. Chilton and Hunter were directed to go to their several posts and inaugurate the offices without [Page 1263] waiting for their exequaturs. They got as far as Trebizond, the nearest Black Sea port, where they were directed to wait in view of fresh obstacles to their making the tedious and at that juncture perilous journey to the mountainous interior. They remained there from October 5 to November 10, 1895. After the riots and massacres at Trebizond, Mr. Chilton was recalled to Washington for other employment, and Mr. Hunter, not having received his teskeré or travel permit and necessary escort, returned under the minister’s directions to Constantinople, where he has been assigned to temporary duty in the legation. Under date of November 12 last Mr. Terrell reported that despite his persistent urgency changes in the ministry had prevented issuance of exequaturs; that the recognition of the consul at Erzerum was promised, but that travel thither had become dangerous, and that an exequatur for the consul at Harpoot was refused. No later information on the subject has been received.
Besides the foregoing points, as to which the records of the Department of State permit specific response, the resolution of the Senate requests all information received by the President or by the State Department “in regard to the condition of affairs there (in Turkey) in reference to the oppression or cruelties practiced upon the Armenian subjects of the Turkish Government.”
Reference has already been made in the Annual Message of December 3 last to the failure of a movement on our part looking to an independent investigation by this Government of the occurrences at Sassoun in August, 1894. Being without right or power to insist upon an inquiry into the internal administration of affairs in Turkey either at Sassoun or elsewhere, except in their relation to the security and welfare of American citizens, this Government is not in possession of that authentic and impartial knowledge which would enable a full response to the Senate’s request for information touching the condition of affairs in Turkey. The facts in regard to three recent outbreaks accompanied by much loss of life in Constantinople, Sivas, and Trebizond have been communicated by the official representatives of the State Department, and the condition of affairs at Harpoot and Marash will doubtless be elicited by the statements to be made in support of the claims of this Government for indemnity by reason of the destruction of American property at those places. But as to the remaining parts of Asia Minor and Syria where disturbances have taken place during the past year the information possessed by the Department of State is for the most part hearsay, or based on narrative statements of individuals not officially dependent upon this Government.
The political aspirations of the Armenians have, for the most part, taken shape in foreign countries, where Armenian societies have been formed, avowing as their purpose the attainment of autonomy for Armenia. The traditional racial hatred between the robber Koords and the pastoral Armenians, with resultant acts of cruelty and spoliation, has long helped this political movement, and it had attained considerable proportions even before the massacres of Sassoun contributed to its increased vitality.
Of those massacres the Department of State has little trustworthy information. As has been seen, the United States had no part in the mixed investigation conducted at Moosh, and the official results have not been made public by the Governments concerned. That the predatory Koords ravaged the Sassoun district; that numbers of villages were destroyed, and many thousands of defenseless Armenians were killed under circumstances of great atrocity, and that no serious efforts [Page 1264] on the part of the Turkish authority were put forth to stay the slaughter, seems to be generally conceded.1
Since that time appalling outbreaks against the Armenians have occurred in many other parts of Asia Minor, where these unfortunate people form but a small minority of the population. At first they were scarcely more than local riots, as at Tokat, in the vilayet of Sivas, in March last, where 1 Armenian was killed outright and more than 30 wounded by the Turkish soldiery. In June last an attempted rising of Armenians in the province of Aleppo, in the mountains of KozarDagh and Zeitown, was thwarted without bloodshed by the arrest of the alleged conspirators, Malcoun Guedjian, whose case has hereinbefore been stated, being among those seized. In July a band of armed Armenians crossing into the vilayet of Erzeroum from Russia was dispersed, several being killed or captured. By August the Moslem feeling against Armenians had become so far aroused that rumors of intended massacres came from several independent quarters, Harpoot, Marsovan, and Bitlis among them, which led to urgent demands by the United States minister for adequate measures looking to the due protection of American citizens in those places.
On the 30th of September grave disturbances began at Constantinople itself. Several hundred Armenians, who had gathered for the purpose of going in a body to the Sultan’s palace and demanding redress for the grievances of their countrymen, were dispersed by the police after a severe conflict in which a number of Turks and Armenians were killed and wounded. Mob violence followed, the Armenians resident in various quarters of the capital being assailed by an excited Turkish rabble, and over 50 were slain. The rioting continued the next day, October 1, in Constantinople and its suburbs. Some 800 or 1,000 Armenians were captured or arrested, many of them being armed with new revolvers of a uniform pattern. By the third day order was restored, and the Armenians who had sought refuge in their churches returned to their homes.
The effect of this outbreak at the national capital was most disastrous in the provinces. The danger of a general massacre of Christians in the vilayets of Adana and Aleppo seemed so imminent that renewed orders for the effective protection of American citizens in those quarters were demanded and obtained. Fears for their safety at Hadjin, Mersine, and Marash were especially felt, and the cruiser Marblehead was promptly ordered to Iskanderoun (Alexandretta), the nearest seaport.
On October 8 a Turkish uprising occurred at Trebizond, due, it is reported, to an attempt to assassinate the late vali of Van as he was about to leave for Constantinople, the Turks claiming that the act was done by an Armenian and that they were in danger of a general Armenian attack. On the 9th the disturbance was renewed, many Armenians being killed and their homes and shops looted by the mob. The authorities attempted to quell the riot, but, having only some 400 soldiers and policemen at command, were powerless, and murder and pillage ran their course as long as an Armenian was in sight. The official Turkish reports give the number of Armenians slain as 182, of Turks 11, but the general estimate places the total number at some 500. Reinforcements of troops soon arrived, and quiet was restored. No injury to American citizens or property occurred.[Page 1265]
From this time the reports of conflicts between Turks and Armenians, with great loss of life, become frequent and confused. At Akhissar, some 60 miles from Smyrna, 50 Armenians were killed October 9. Koordish raids terrorized many parts of the Armenian provinces. At Bitlis over 500 were reported killed, the Turkish accounts alleging that the Armenians attacked the Moslem mosques during the hour of prayer. At Diarbekir 5,000 are said to have lost their lives, of which 2,300 were Mussulmans—but the Turkish authorities pronounce this estimate exaggerated. From Malatia comes the report of a “great massacre” early in November, when every adult male Christian is said to have perished. Another sanguinary outbreak, with great slaughter, is reported from Sivas on November 12; some 800 Armenians and 10 Koords are said to have been killed. At Ourfa loss of life is reported, the American missionaries at that place being protected by Turkish guards under orders from the Porte.
The Kaimakam of Hadjin is credibly said to have announced that he would destroy the town and sow barley on its site. There being an American school at that place, directed by American teachers, the United States minister thereupon notified the Porte that if one of those American ladies received injury from the riotous conduct of the populace, he would demand, in the name of the United States, “the head of that Kaimakam.” That officer has since been removed. Later reports allege massacres at Marsovan and Amasia. The consular agent at Aleppo telegraphs that a severe conflict had occurred at Aintab, and that great fear prevailed at Aleppo. The burning of the American buildings at Harpoot took place during a bloody riot, and many persons are said to have perished in the province of that name. At Kurun 400 deaths are reported. Particulars of the recent outbreak at Marash, on November 19, in which American missionary property was destroyed, have not yet been received.
These scattered notices, for the most part received by telegraph, are given, not as official averment of the facts stated, but as showing the alarming degree to which racial prejudices and fanatical passions have been roused throughout Asia Minor. As above said, the Department of State has and can have official knowledge regarding but few of these reported massacres, and though up to the early part of December the United States minister estimated the number of the killed as exceeding 30,000, it is more than likely that the figures are greatly exaggerated.
At latest advices mob violence and slaughter appear to have been checked, or at least to have partially subsided. The Turkish Government has been emphatic in assurances of its purpose and ability to restore order in the affected localities; new governors have been appointed in many of the provinces, troops have been sent to the scene of recent or apprehended disorders, and forces have been massed to subdue the Armenians who had gained the ascendant in Zeitoun.
The efforts of the European powers to secure governmental reforms and good administration in Armenia proper, and security for Armenian Christians in general, have borne some fruit in an Imperial iradé, announced on October 20, imposing certain restrictions on the armament and military organization of the Koords; admitting Christians to the gendarmerie and the police “according to their respective number in each province,” and reaffirming ancient laws exempting homesteads, tools of trade, and family necessaries from forced sale; but as regards the correction of administrative abuses, and the enforcement of practical security for life and property among the non-Mussulman races of [Page 1266] the Empire, little would seem to have been accomplished by the profound agitation which followed the massacres of Sassoun sixteen months ago.
And at the present moment the temporary lull in the turbulence is believed to be more apparent than real. A telegram just received from the minister, under date of the 16th, expresses the gravest apprehensions concerning the ultimate fate of American citizens in the disturbed region, unless the appalling massacres can be stopped by the united efforts of the Christian powers. He sees no hope, however, of a European concert to that end. He says that if the missionaries wish to leave Turkey he can procure their transportation to Christian ports. If the men wish to remain, he can get escort for all to the seacoast, whereupon the men can return; but he adds that the women and children should quit Turkey.
- In June, 1895. (See Report of Secretary of State, printed on page —.)↩
- No foreign consular representation of any kind at Harpoot, (See Report of Secretary of State, printed on page —.)↩
- The investigation at Moush, conducted in the presence of European consuls, and which appears in the British Blue Book recently published, shows that the press reports of atrocities at Sassoun were much exaggerated.↩