Mr. McDonald to Mr. Olney.

No. 235, Dip. Series.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith two letters from an American missionary at ———, on the border of Turkey, giving report of horrible massacre of Armenians at Van, and depicting the dangerous and exposed situation of the Christians on the plains of Salmos and Khoi from murderous raids by the Kurds and Moslems of the border. I have sent translations to the Sadr Azem; and in a personal interview with him recently on the subject he expressed the most determined purpose to protect the Christians of that section, and said that a regiment had been ordered to Khoi. But I have reason to fear that this latter has not been done. I also sent copies of the second letter to the British and Russian ministers, they having subjects in the exposed districts, and received cordial acknowledgments and promises of cooperation.

I have, etc.,

Alex. McDonald.
[Page 471]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 235.]

Mr. ——— to Mr. McDonald.

Dear Sir: I wish to inform you on behalf of the American citizens resident in this place that there is considerable danger of the Kurds of Persia and Turkey, in the course of next month, making an incursion on the Christians of the Salmos and Khoi plains. The Kurds are openly talking of doing so as soon as the snow melts off the mountains. The 9,000 Armenians of Salmos and 2,000 of Khoi are in great trepidation and are utterly defenseless. In case of an attack many of the Moslems of this place will join the Kurds in plundering and massacreing the Christians.

I would advise you to confer with the English ambassador as to what is best to do and that you act unitedly. If a couple of thousand of soldiers could be sent by the Shah, well armed and fed, we feel the Kurds would not dare to invade Salmos and Khoi. The spirit so prevalent in Turkey is growing rapidly in this part of Persia, and if the Shah does not take a strong stand the Sunne and Sheah Moslems will combine to exterminate the Armenians and Nestorians of these border regions.

I have just been to Khoi. In Kotur the 40 houses of Armenians are terrorized. The same is true of the 35 houses in Van. Many of these have fled to Khoi, and dare not return even to get their families. The priest of Kotur has been in Khoi three months, in this way, and is reduced to great want—in fact, has to beg to live at all.

As we live among the Armenians, our property and lives will be in danger if they are sacked.

Yours, sincerely,

——— ———.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 235.]

Mr. ——— to Mr. McDonald.

Dear Sir: I again wish to inform you of the disturbed state of these border regions.

Word has come from Van, Turkey, both by telegram and through Kurds, which indicates a fresh onslaught on the Armenians. It is in substance as follows: Two Turkish guards in the Armenian quarter were shot at night by some one; the deed was laid on the Armenians. So the Government quickly surrounded the whole Armenian quarter with soldiers and Kurds; and having thus cut off all means of escape, entered the street with cannon and attacked the Armenians. The latter tried to protect themselves, and many of the assailants were slain, but finally the Government prevailed and gave no quarter and slew every Armenian in the place. There were about 22,000 Armenians there recently. This word may be exaggerated, but is verified from such a number of different sources that there can be but little doubt that the greatest massacre yet heard of has taken place. All travel between these regions and Van is strictly prohibited, and even Moslems can neither come nor go except they be Kurds of this region. Hence it seems probable that a general massacre of Armenians is taking place in the Van, Bitlis, and Moosh regions, and the Government [Page 472] is trying to prevent word getting out to foreign countries until the work of carnage is done.

The Kurds just west of us are now, or soon will be, free to plunder Salmos. They are busy trying to arrange among themselves the plan of the raid. I have this word directly from a Kurd who called on me yesterday. The Christians and Jews of this place are now in a state of consternation and expect any day now an invasion of the plain.

There are no soldiers here, and no means whatever are in the hands of the Persian officials with which to protect the non-Moslem population, which is some 13,000 in this plain alone. They are perfectly defenseless, and dare make no effort to arm or protect themselves lest the Persian Moslems raid their towns. Many of the Persian Moslems are just waiting for some such pretext to give a warrant for plundering the non-Moslems.

We have not yet asked for a guard for our premises from the Government here, but may have to do so any day unless the Shah places some regiments here to protect his subjects.

It might be well, I judge, to communicate the report as to the massacre at Van to the English and Russian embassies; but of course you will know best about it. Thanks for the word as to the country not being taxable.

Yours, sincerely,

——— ———.