867.4016/463: Telegram

The High Commissioner at Constantinople (Bristol) to the Secretary of State


70. Yesterday I received a visit from the British High Commissioner, who called to show me instructions which his Government had sent him concerning the British Foreign Secretary’s proposal that a commission of Allied and American officers be appointed to investigate the condition of the Christian minorities in Anatolia. As I understand it, an invitation has been extended through our Embassy in London for American representation on this commission. I recommend that this invitation be declined although I fully realize the difficult position in which this invitation places the Department and the state of American public sentiment. My reasons are as follows:

The occasion for the present agitation is the report by Mr. Yowell.3 The events with which this report deals took place some months ago, and their causes go back to the occupation of Smyrna, the enlistment by the French of Armenians in Cilicia, and the Greek atrocities against the Turks a year ago along the Marmora coast.
There are many indications that the British are using the Yowell report for anti-Turkish propaganda, to strengthen their position in the Near East.
The plight of the minorities in Anatolia has been known for a long time by the British, full information having been given last fall to us among others by Colonel Rawlinson.4
It is significant that the outcry at present coincides with report that the British are renewing their efforts to induce the French to make a strong reply to the last note from Angora.
The tone of the Foreign Secretary’s telegram and the publicity which it was given in the Commons and in an official British press despatch clearly indicate that the purpose is political propaganda.
Within the last few days I have received a telegram from Miss Billings5 saying that there have been no massacres at Harput. She is in constant communication with that place.

I transmitted Mr. Yowell’s report with my despatch 201, May 9.6 I reported the publicity which it was given and the results of this publicity in my despatch 214, May 17.6

  1. Not printed.
  2. Lieut. Col. Sir Alfred Rawlinson of the British Army.
  3. Miss Florence Billings of the Near East Relief.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.