Minister Pearson to the Secretary of State.

No. 121.]

Sir: I have the honor to confirm my telegram of the 4th instant * * * and to acknowledge the Department’s reply received the next day. * * *

The language of the treaty is too plain to admit of misconstruction, but I felt justified in asking instructions for the following reasons:

* * * * * * *

The British consul-general, who by the generous offer of the British legation, is representing the American Government at the trial of the Kurds implicated in the murder of Mr. Labaree, telegraphed on the 2d instant as follows, through his legation:

“I must decline to suggest the names of witnesses unless an undertaking be given by the American minister that these unfortunate people [Page 733]will not be subsequently persecuted. I believe as a matter of fact that unless they are assured of protection they will go back on their depositions” (taken before the consul-general last winter).

The missionaries have expressed the fear and the belief that the trial will be a failure unless the American Government assumes protection to the witnesses. These missionaries complain and assert that the British Government renders them more assistance than does their own; that the British consul-general is now protecting the former governor of Urumia, who has been illtreated and fined, as they claim, for no other reason than that he has been a true friend to American missionaries, and they can’t understand why their government can not protect Persian subjects as fully as the British Government protects such Persians. I have assured them, to no purpose, that the treaty expressly forbids such protection, and therefore I desired the ruling of the Department in order to set this question at rest once for all.

I had anticipated the Department’s instructions and before receiving the telegram above recited I handed in person to the Persian minister for foreign affairs the note, a copy of which is inclosed herein, and am glad to report that he immediately telegraphed instructions commanding the governor of Urumia to give public notice to the effect that all witnesses called to testify in this case shall be fully protected and saved harmless by the Persian Government.

I have felt all along that a government of high ideals, like our own, should observe its treaty obligations toward a weak power as promptly as if it were dealing with a strong power able to enforce such performance; and I have felt assured that the actual President of the United States would be, if possible, even more strict and scrupulous in this regard in dealing with a weak rather than with a strong power, for the same reason that a gentleman will discharge a debt of honor more promptly than a debt which is amply secured.

At the risk of being tedious I have felt that I should make this position clear, and I am pleased to know that the Department sustains my views.

I am, etc.,

Richmond Pearson.

Minister Pearson to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Sir: In the matter of the approaching trial of the Kurds implicated in the murder of Mr. Labaree, the British consul-general at Tabriz informs me that witnesses are afraid to testify against the Kurds unless guaranteed protection. I have therefore to ask, with all urgency, that you telegraph instructions to the governor of Urumia to the effect that he give public notice that he will protect and save harmless the witnesses who are required to testify at the trial. In the event that you can not guarantee adequate protection to such witnesses will you waive any objection to my government’s making such guaranty and taking the necessary steps to enforce the same?

Your excellency is aware that since we reached a basis of settlement in this case on January 3, 1905, I have not troubled you about trifles or formalities, but this question is vital and goes to the heart of the matter. It means the success or failure of the trial; and you will allow me to recall the words in which, on January 3, you pledged the honor and good faith of your government, to wit: * * *

“With respect to the other persons implicated in this murder, whoever of them shall be found within the government and jurisdiction of Persia shall, by the 9th of March, 1906, be arrested and brought to trial and punished according to the measure of their guilt.”

[Page 734]

I have been led to believe that the Kurdish tribes in sympathy with the accused are willing to pay to the widow of Mr. Labaree the $20,000 which was conditionally rebated from the amount of the indemnity and that the prisoners expect release on such terms; but I now notify your excellency, in the most emphatic terms, that my government will never assent to or even consider such a disposition of the case. Gold can not atone for American blood. “Punishment according to the measure of their guilt” is the only reparation which my government will accept, and for this it relies upon the strict performance of the pledge above given forth in which you solemnly bind the honor and faith of Persia.

I avail, etc.,

Richmond Pearson.