Minister Pearson to the Secretary of State.
Teheran, April 20, 1905.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose copies of further correspondence bearing on the Labaree case, and I wish to direct special attention to the following statements in a letter addressed to me by Dr. J. P. Cochran and dated March 22, 1905. Doctor Cochran is considered the leading spirit among the missionaries at Urumia. He says:
There never was a time in the history of this mission when we were in so great and constant danger as at the present. To hold in Teheran two or three of those (Kurds) who have fallen into the net or even to execute them is exasperating their comrades here to a most dangerous degree.
I fail entirely to grasp the logic of this conclusion. The chief murderer and five of his most prominent accomplices are incarcerated here, and their clansmen in Urumia have been made to understand that the lives of these prisoners are dependent upon the good behavior of the Kurdish tribes in Urumia. In the light of common sense and of the common principles of human nature this condition would seem to be a guaranty of security rather than a cause of danger to the Christians in Urumia. I deem it prudent not to press for the final punishment of these criminals until at least two others of the ringleaders shall have been captured, and until the excited mental state of the Christian population shall have resumed its normal calm. But as my views are so radically different from those of Doctor Cochran and his associates, I feel obliged to ask for further and specific instructions as to the particular steps that I should take in the premises. I can readily understand the complaints of the missionaries and their protests against steps which they have opposed; but how and why they should complain of steps which they have urgently advised and which after long and arduous efforts this legation has finally accomplished I fail utterly to comprehend.
The correspondence in this case shows that the missionaries asked for the removal of the governor of the province of Urumia. That has been done and a man of energy and courage has been put in his place.
They asked for the removal of the mudjtabad—the chief Moslem ecclesiastic of Urumia—represented as the instigator, the head and front of all the troubles, and after a year’s persistent and urgent demands by the American and British ministers this * * * Moslem bishop has been removed.
The missionaries asked for the arrest of the murderer and his accomplices. All except two of the chief participants in the crime are now in jail at Teheran. Seven of the men implicated are servants, and a Persian servant has no independence or sense of personal responsibility; and I have repeatedly impressed upon the Persian Government that we desired the punishment of the guilty masters rather than of the ignorant servants.
The correspondence further shows that the missionaries asked me to protest to the Persian Government against the presence in Urumia of Madjd-es-Sultaneh, the agent sent from Tabriz to capture the accomplices. I declined to comply with this request, and it turned out that this Madjd-es-Sultaneh, instead of being a man of “evil influence,” was successful in entrapping by various ruses the most prominent and influential chiefs among the guilty Kurds.[Page 729]
Finally, I was asked to obtain the revocation or postponement of the order removing the Moslem bishop; this I declined to do for the reasons set forth in my letter to the British minister.
After working for a year to secure the removal of this bad Mullah, I was unwilling when success was in sight suddenly to reverse my steps and stultify my previous representations.
From all this the Department will see the necessity of giving me positive and precise instructions which I shall not fail to execute with promptness and energy.
I am, etc.,