Mr. Pearson to Mr. Hay.

Sir: I have the honor to hand you herewith copy of an identical note addressed to the Persian Government by the British minister to Persia and by myself as minister of the United States.

I am pleased to be able to add that the note, however unusual in its tone, has had for its effect the capture and incarceration of Seyid Ghaffar, who has murdered a British subject and an American citizen, both within the past six months, and whose claim of lineal descent from Mahomet made his arrest difficult and peculiarly embarrassing to the Persian Government.

I am, etc.,

Richmond Pearson,
American Minister to Persia.

Identic note to His Highness the Ain-ed-Dowleh from His Excellency Sir A. Harding and the Hon. Richmond Pearson.

The undersigned, ministers plenipotentiary of His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India, and of the United States of America, have the honor to invite your highness’s most serious attention to the condition of affairs in the district of Urumia. As the Persian Government is aware, from the separate representations which the undersigned have repeatedly made to it, no adequate steps have been taken to apprehend Seyid Ghaffar, who, after first killing, several months ago, a naturalized British-Canadian subject named Daniel, has since assassinated, with circumstances of revolting atrocity, the Rev. Benjamin Labaree, an American citizen, who was a highly respected member of the American clergy working in Azerbaijan. The murderer and his accomplices are still at large in the neighborhood of Urumia, but, though orders have been sent to the acting governor of Urumia to arrest them, he is powerless for want of troops. The latest telegram received from Consul-General Wratis-law, who represents British and United States interests at Tabriz, is to the effect that nothing is being done for the arrest of the murderers, and that the governor proposes to hold a court of inquiry, which would probably be absolutely useless. No doubt it is desirable, when a person is charged with murder, that every care should be taken to investigate the charge, but a criminal trial in the absence of the accused is hardly likely to advance the ends of justice. The consequence of this deplorable inaction on the part of the Persian authorities is that the Kurds, emboldened by it, are plundering Christian villages, and that both the British and American missionaries at Urumia are in imminent danger. The British missionaries have telegraphed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the chief prelate of the English Church, to ask his grace to represent the gravity [Page 668] of the situation to His Majesty’s Government, and Mr. Wratislaw has, at his own suggestion, been instructed by telegraph to proceed himself to Urumia in order to reassure them and to advise as to the necessary steps. The Kurds number about 1,000 men, and as there appear to be absolutely no Persian troops at Urumia, an extraordinary state of affairs considering the constantly disturbed condition of that frontier district, the Persian officials have apparently no means of enforcing the authority of the Shah’s Government.

It appears to the undersigned that the following measures are urgent and should be adopted without a moment’s delay:

A sufficient force, which they suggest might be two infantry regiments and 300 cavalry, should be dispatched by telegraphic orders either from Tabriz, or from the nearest garrison to Urumia, to overawe the Kurds and occupy the principal roads and passes leading from Urumia into Ottoman country, so as to prevent the escape of the murderers across the border. If this had been done when the matter was first represented to the Persian Government the criminals might by now have been captured, but every day which passes will render their arrest more difficult, as the roads are fast opening with the melting of the snow in the passes. No time should therefore be lost in taking these essential steps.
The governor of Urumia should be authorized to draw 15,000 tomans, and such further sums as he may subsequently find to have been requisite, from the nearest branch of the Imperial or Russian Bank for the expenses of his operations.
He should be informed that the successful arrest of the murderers will be a condition of his maintenance in office.
The Mollah Mirza Hussein Agha of Urumia, who has extended his protection to Seyid Ghaffar, should be removed from Urumia and informed that if he attempts to resist he will be treated as an accessory to the crime.
A pecuniary reward should be offered for any information which may lead to the apprehension of the murderers, and a proclamation issued and circulated through the district that any village sheltering them will be burned, and that any person assisting them will be shot as an accessory after the fact to their crime and as a rebel against the Shah’s authority.

If these measures are taken without further procrastination there is some hope that justice may be eventually done, but it is imperative that they should not be delayed. The undersigned, confident that the Persian Government must feel as deeply as they do themselves the disgrace which will attach to it in the eyes of the civilized world if it be shown to be powerless to punish the brutal murder of inoffensive foreigners within its territories, are convinced that the earnest appeal which they hereby make to your highness to act promptly and energetically in this matter will not be addressed to you in vain.

The undersigned reserve for the present the question of the pecuniary indemnity to be claimed by them from the local government on behalf of the families of the victims.

  • Arthur H. Hardinge.
  • Richmond Pearson.