Minister Pearson to the Secretary of State.
Teheran, October 7, 1905.
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.,