Mr. Tyler to Mr. Hay.

No. 56.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose for your information copies of correspondence relating more especially to the accomplices of the murderer of the late Mr. Labaree and his servant. From a perusal of these papers it will be painfully evident that, notwithstanding the presence of the English consul-general in Urumia, the strong representations of a very capable locum tenens in Tabriz, the persistent efforts of the English minister in Teheran, the repeated and urgent requests, oral and verbal, of this legation, how little progress has been made since the murderer was arrested, and even his criminality has [Page 662] been denied, in obtaining hardly a show of justice or a serious attempt to apprehend these culprits.

* * * * * * *

Before communicating your telegram of the 24th of June I went into the country on the 27th and had an interview with the English minister, who agreed with me that it would be advisable that I should personally take a translation and copy of the message, which he thought excellent, to the minister for foreign affairs, and insist that, as the President’s name was mentioned, he should present it to His Majesty the Shah, and obtain the strongest possible order on the Crown Prince, governor of Azerbaijan, to arrest the accomplices. His excellency also authorized me to say that unless the culprits were arrested with little more delay we should send in an identical note, and if that were not sufficient ask for joint audience of the Shah.

In my interview with the minister I told him that the Government of the United States was in earnest, that in its eyes the case had assumed very grave proportions, and that it required that the guilty parties to this barbarous murder, whoever they might be, should be arrested and punished. I told his excellency that we had been frequently advised that the most stringent orders had been given and all necessary measures taken to this end only to find that nothing had been done. I added that I did not ask that any more orders should be issued, but rather that he should insist that such as had been given should be executed, for this repetition of commands and instructions had ceased to have any effect with the authorities or to inspire any confidence in us. I mentioned my interview with the English minister, and conveyed to him the message as to an identical note and a joint interview with himself and an audience of His Majesty the Shah. I pointed out to him the dangers to which United States citizens were exposed, the natural dread in which they were living, and that the responsibility for all this rested with the authorities. In leaving a copy of the telegram I asked his excellency to present it to the Shah on the very first opportunity, and to let me have a reply as soon as possible, as I was expected without delay to transmit an answer by telegraph.

I was assured that the strongest orders had been sent, only two days before, to the crown prince to arrest these men, and there was to be no more excuse, for the Government demanded them and required that they should be presented as prisoners.

He told me that he had done all he could, and that now the Government had insisted that nothing but the apprehension of the criminals would satisfy their demands. The minister told me that he should certainly present the telegram to the Shah, and asked me to telegraph that the strongest orders had been issued, and his intention to have them enforced.

I propose, however, before complying with this request, to see some practical effect of the new orders, in default of which I shall probably telegraph, not, however, to give assurance, but rather to ask for still further instructions.

I have, etc.,

John Tyler.
[Page 663]
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Tyler to the Mushir-ed-Dowlah.

Your Excellency: In the conversation which I had with you on the 30th of May with reference to the arrest of the accomplices of Mir Ghaffar in the murder of Mr. Labaree, I informed your excellency that the Government of the United States had written very strongly, and had shortly before sent a peremptory telegram indicating that in accordance with the commands of His Majesty, the authorities of Azerbaijan should be ordered, without fail, to arrest these criminals, and at the same time urging me to make the strongest possible request to have this carried out.

You asked me to furnish you with the names of these accomplices, but I beg to remind your excellency that with the dispatch of the United States minister of the 27th of Muharram a translation of a letter from Doctor Cochran, of Urumia, was sent to you, which contained the names of these men, with certain other particulars regarding the crime, and in reply you stated that a copy of that letter had been sent to the government in Tabriz. As your excellency has required a repetition of the names I beg to inform you as follows: Seydi, son of Gehanger Beg, of Ambi; Timur Beg, Khosruki Changis Beg, son of Hassan Beg, of Derbend, near to Ambi, and Mir Mohammad, of Bedri, with eight others of the village of Sheikh-Shamo-ed-din, who, including Mir Ghaffar, number 14.

These 13 criminals I consider to be in every respect as culpable as Mir Ghaffar, for while he could plead that he was, on account of these murders, a fugitive from the dwellings and neighborhood of men, these criminals were under no apprehension of the punishment of offenses, and therefore could have no motive for the perpetration of the crime but lawlessness, robbery, cruelty, and murder.

With reference to Mirza Hussein Aga, who is not only an executor of the law, but is also one of the chiefs of the nation, and by his position ought to promote order and concord among the people, instead of, as can be seen from the above mentioned translation, being a protector of Mir Ghaffer and other criminals, I have no doubt His Majesty’s Government will, under these circumstances, consider the advisability of his being punished and removed from the city.

It is reported that the Madjdes-Suttaveh has received orders to go to Tiflis, but as he is the only official thoroughly conversant with the particulars of these crimes, and the one man capable of arresting these men, until this matter is settled I have to strongly request that he should not be suspended. In the furtherance of justice in this case success or failure depends on the knowledge or ignorance of the person to whom it is intrusted.

I beg to appeal to you as strongly as possible to have the case settled before Mr. Pearson reaches Washington, so as to obviate the necessity for a damaging report.

It is notorious that in the province of Urumia the Kurds, from natural habit and custom, periodically perpetrate murders, robberies, mannings, and other outrages, and that the only safe method of preventing these is to deprive them of their arms and ammunition, and to ordain that any members of the tribes who shall be found with firearms or other weapons shall be fined and otherwise punished; only thus will people be able to move about without fear and attend to their business without molestation. If His Majesty’s Government can see its way to take this step, there can be no doubt but that it will be of great advantage to the people of these regions.

In the present state of uncertainty, when any of our subjects have to leave their homes they are obliged to send out scouts to examine the roads and other places to assure themselves that no one is lurking in ambush with sinister intentions, and even then with much preparation and under the protection of guards go out and attend to their business.

I have received information that on the 9th of this month 40 Kurds raided a Mussulman village only a mile from Urumia, and carried off 200 sheep. If such an offense can be committed within so short a distance of the city, with what impunity can it be carried out when distance insures protection.

I have on many occasions when reporting occurrences to the United States Government had much pleasure in noting my appreciation of the alacrity with which His Majesty’s Government have attended to my requests, and I hope that on this occasion I shall have no cause to complain.

I have, etc.,

John Tyler.
[Page 664]
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Tyler to the Mushir-ed-Dowlah.

Your Excellency: At your request on the 17th of this Persian month I communicated to your excellency certain particulars regarding the accomplices of Mir Ghaffar in the murder of Mr. Labaree, but up to the present time I have heard nothing of the results.

* * * * * * *

It is, moreover, with extreme regret and disappointment that I learn from other sources that notwithstanding the urgent and persistent appeals of this legation, arid the numerous orders issued from the government to the authorities in Azerbaijan, no practical and decisive steps have been taken.

It is now more than three months that the legation has urged with the greatest emphasis that the high authorities of Tabriz and Urumia shall, in obedience to the Imperial commands and the orders of the central government, exert themselves to the utmost to arrest the perpetrators of these murders.

From the successive replies received from your excellency, the minister of the United States was persuaded of the ultimate success of the measures which he believed had been adopted, that he assured the United States Government that the authorities would relax no efforts put forth for the satisfaction of justice.

I am now apprehensive that after these representations, when I shall inform it that the authorities in Tabriz and Urumia, notwithstanding the orders which have been sent, have done absolutely nothing, a most unfavorable impression will be produced.

It is evident that if the commands and orders that have been sent to those provinces had been carried out, the subjects of foreign States would not now be in such a state of terror, anxiety, and danger, insomuch that they can not go out of their houses with any assurance of safety.

I have, therefore, again most urgently to request your excellency, in the name of the United States Government, whose citizen has been wantonly and cruelly murdered, that you will use your commanding influence to compel the authorities in Azerbaijan to execute the order which His Imperial Majesty and his Government have considered necessary for the arrest of these criminals and restoring confidence in the city and districts of Urumia, where our citizens, men and women, reside.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.,

John Tyler.
[Inclosure 3.]

The Mushir-ed-Doivlah to Mr. Tylery.

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, dated the 26th of Rabi-ul aval, June 11, 1904, in which you implicate certain Kurds as accomplices of Mir Ghaffar in the murder of Mr. Labaree, and in reply have to state:

  • Firstly. Doctor Cochran’s letter, a copy of which you inclosed, can not on the evidence of one Christian, whose statements admit of any possible construction, be considered as proof of the complicity of Gurgin Beg in the murder of Mr. Labaree. The facts of the case can not be deduced from this narrative.
  • Secondly. The Government of the United States is fully aware that previously to the arrest of Mir Ghaffar, both it and the legation urged the Persian Government to direct all his energies to the arrest of the murderer of Mr. Labaree. Moreover, it is clear to what an unusal extent this Government has undertaken labor and incurred expense in the arrest and imprisonment of the accused. And now that he has been secured you have imported into the case certain accomplices; but the authorities in Azerbaijan having instituted the fullest inquiries have made it plain that Mir Ghaffar had no associates, and proved that in this case the Kurds are free from all responsibility, For why? [Page 665] These Begzadehs in the pursuit of Mir Ghaffar gave the authorities every support and in his arrest and delivery into prison rendered much service. And now after all the efforts put forth by this Government to procure the arrest of Mir Ghaffar, its expectations are at variance with the arguments of the Government of the United States, as set forth in this dispatch.

Furthermore, it has become evident that the measures adopted by this Government and the authorities of Azerbaijan to bring this matter to a conclusion have assured to foreign subjects in that region the greatest personal safety and freedom from anxiety. It is, again, indisputable that when it is clearly manifest to what extent the forces of the Government have been put in motion for the arrest of a single murderer and the bringing to justice of offenders, such persons as are the object of suspicion can not and will not allow themselves to betray their evil propensities and their inherent villainy.

As these Begzadehs have in this case supported the views of the authorities of Azerbaijan, and rendered considerable service in the arrest of Mir Ghaffar, it should be made an opportunity for recognizing and appreciating the services which they have rendered to the State rather than to visit them with punishment, that might in the future be a source of regret.

The Government of the United States should be made acquainted with this aspect of the case; for to pursue the Kurds without sufficient proof of their complicity would lead to a state of enmity between them and the Christians, and probably be a source of further trouble and difficulty. This is certainly far from being advisable, and any measures which might have this result could not be satisfactory and it is possible that in their obstinancy and resentment they (the Kurds) might find an excuse to create fresh troubles.

In the arrest of Mir Ghaffar and the absence of proofs regarding accomplices, it is not just to bring forward this charge, which might produce animosity between the Khans of Dasht and the Christians, and bring on a result not now foreseen or anticipated.

It is to be hoped that the Government of the United States will, after considering the statements of this dispatch, agree with its conclusions.

I take, etc.,

[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Tyler to the Mushir-ed-Dowlah.

Your Excellency: I have just received from his excellency the Secretary of State a dispatch instructing me to bring to your notice the unexpectedly long delay which has intervened in the arrest of the accomplices of Mir Ghaffar for the murder of Mr. Labaree and his servant and to urge you with the greatest emphasis to see that, all necessary and possible measures be taken for the arrest and punishment of these criminals.

In my conversation on the 23d of May and in my dispatches of the 2d and 11th of June I have impressed upon you as forcibly as I could the absolute necessity which exists for the arrest of these men, whose names and places of abode I have sent you, but up to the present it does not appear that a sufficient force, with imperative orders to effect this purpose, have been given by the authorities.

I beg to tell your excellency that nothing short of the punishment of these culprits will satisfy the Government of the United States, and I therefore request that no further excuses or delays be suffered to interfere with the course of justice.

I inclose translations of extracts from letters just received from Urumia giving accounts of robberies and murders in the very neighborhood of the city of Urumia.

I have, etc.,

John Tyler.
[Page 666]
[Inclosure 5.]

Mr. Tyler to the Mushir-ed-Dowlah.

Your Excellency: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, dated the 16th of June, with reference to the accomplices of Mir Ghaffar in the murder of Mr. Labaree and his servant.

In reply I regret to observe that it appears from the tenor of this communication that the whole of the correspondence on this subject with your excellency, the telegrams of the authorities of Azerbaijan, the telegrams and letters of the English consul-general at Tabriz, and the translations of intelligence from other sources from the date of the perpetration of this crime on the 21st of Zeehejjeh, the 9th of March, 1904, until to-day has been obliterated from your memory. Your excellency remarks that “The Government of the United States is fully aware that previously to the arrest of Mir Ghaffar both it and the legation urged the Persian Government to direct all its energies to the arrest of the murderer of Mr. Labaree, * * * and now that he has been secured you have imported into the case certain accomplices.”

I beg most respectfully to remind your excellency that from the date of the commission of the crime until the present day there has been no vacillation on this point by the legation. The contention when not stated in exact terms has always been implied by the use of the plural number to signify the culprits.

This is more especially emphasized in the letter of the United States minister, dated the 27th of Muharram, 14th of April, inclosing a translation of a letter from Doctor Cochran, a copy of which you sent to Tabriz for the information of the authorities of Azerbaijan, in which fourteen persons were charged with the crime. And in the telegraphic reply of the Emir-i-Nizam, a copy of which your excellency sent to the legation, it is categorically stated that the murderers are Mir Ghaffar and three men of the Dasht Kurds, who must be Mohammadis, and these miscreants are in hiding among this tribe. From this statement of the governor it is quite evident that Mir Ghaffar was not without partners in the perpetration of the outrage; and this attempt on the part of the authorities of Azebaijan to exonerate the Kurds from all complicity is a perversion of the plainest facts.

I beg, moreover, to report for your excellency’s information that previously to the departure of his excellency, the minister of the United States, on the 4th of May, the whole of the correspondence, from the first intimation of the murder until the latter date, including translations of telegrams and letters sent and received in Persian, with a report on all the circumstances of the case, indicating the measures adopted and the efforts put forth by His Majesty’s Government was sent to the Secretary of State at Washington.

It is in consideration of this complete knowledge of the facts of the case that I am urged to press upon the attention of your excellency the absolute necessity for the arrest of the accomplices of Mir Ghaffar, as stated in my dispatch of the 4th of Rabi-es-Sani, 18th of June. As therein intimated, the Government of the United States can not be satisfied with less than the arrest and punishment of the accomplices in these murders.

I need not tell your excellency that human credulity can not admit that a single person in the plain of Dilmakan, unless he were inspired by the utmost confidence in his accomplices, would dare in broad daylight to stop two horsemen, murder and strip one, and then taking his clothes and horse, compel the other to go a distance of 6 miles to a lonely place, stand unresistingly while he was hacked to pieces, and then load up the plunder and lead two horses back to his hiding place. Such a supposition is utterly incredible, but the result is the strongest possible proof of the presence and diabolical cruelty of the accomplices.

After three and a half months’ correspondence, in which every possible detail and occurrence has been reported, indicating as an indubitable certainty that a number of men were implicated in the perpetration of the crime, I feel it extremely difficult to report to the Government of the United States these statements, so fallaciously in conflict with all opinion on the subject.

If it were not for the dispatch under consideration, I should not think it necessary to indicate to your excellency that no one connected with the United States in Persia would think of bringing a charge not founded on fact against [Page 667] any person and demand his punishment for a crime of which he was innocent. Immunity from the effects of complicity will be gladly conceded when the plea of not guilty is established.

From the translations of extracts from Doctor Cochran’s letters, inclosed in my dispatches of the 26th of Rabi-ul-aval and the 4th of Rabi-es-sani, it can be seen how well grounded are the suspicions directed against these people, whose lives are spent in robbery, plunder, and outrage. If you will carefully examine these papers I feel sure you will admit the truth of the statements.

I beg still once more to request that your excellency will close your ears to these misleading reports and insist upon the arrest and punishment of the guilty parties to this disgraceful murder without any further delay.

I avail, etc.,

John Tyler.