TURKEY AND THE ARMENIAN ATROCITIES
Note from the administration of ArmenianHouse.org: the page numbering is preserved, so the book can be used for quoting. Also we did our best to keep the layout as close to the original as possible.
THE ARMENIAN QUESTION.
A Progressive Grand Vizier — Victory of the Reactionary Party — Egypt and the Mahdi — Rise of the Armenian Question — Russian Intrigue — Articles of the Berlin Treaty — Autonomy Desired — The Huntchagist Committee — Placards in Asia Minor — Burning of American Building at Marsovan — Numerous Arrests — Armenians Exiled — Coercive Measures of the Government — American Citizens — Threats — Huntchagists Disowned by the Nation — Young Turkey Party — Absolute Failure of the Huntchagist Movement.
The close of the Russo-Turkish war and the Treaty of Berlin left Abd-ul-Hamid II with the task before him of building up an empire which had almost fallen to pieces. On the one hand he was faced by the demands made upon him by England; he was under obligations to make special reforms in Asia Minor, also in Macedonia, Thessaly and Epirus, besides granting a liberal form of administration to Crete. On the other hand he was faced by an internal condition which was enough to daunt the bravest man. The financial condition of the empire was in a state of collapse; in fact there were no finances of any sort. The regular expenditures more than doubled the regular income; the currency was in a hopelessly disorganized condition; gold, silver, copper and paper were in circulation. The silver, however, had several different values. There were alloys of silver and copper of varying degrees of purity, each with its own value;
[page 325] AN HONEST VIZIER.
the paper currency also was never worth the same two days in succession. The whole business of the empire was disorganized. Various attempts, some of them, honest, some thoroughly dishonest, almost all ludicrous, were made to bring order out of chaos. The Sultan entered upon his task with unquestionably a sincere desire for the welfare of his country, as is shown by his choice, within six months after the signing of the treaty of Berlin, of a Grand Vizier who had never been identified with Constantinople intrigue. Haireddin Pasha, a Circassian by birth, had had some years of experience in the control of matters in Tunis. He was known as a man of education, strictly honest and with a sense of duty very rarely to be found in the East. He was a thorough Moslem, believing heart and soul in the Mohammedan faith; believing also that it was thoroughly adaptable to all needs of civilization, and that it could be made equal in beneficent results to Christianity as set forth in the life of Europe. His access to power was looked upon as a good omen. On every hand the people expected him to restore in Turkey all the ancient usages of Islam. He found a task before him which demanded all his energies. He found officials in power in the provinces who, when ordered to report the number of able-bodied Moslems in their districts and draw rifles for distribution among them to check a revolt, added 10 or 20 per cent, to the actual number, drew the arms and then sold those not required for the Turks to the Christians. Others manifested the most atrocious lack of fidelity to their duty or of common sense in the conduct of their office. But this was not all; in the Porte itself the management was sincerely opposed to all real reform. The very clerks managed by all sorts of devices to misrepresent the orders that were given,
[page 326] TROUBLE IN EGYPT.
or to so tamper, with the despatches that they were made of no avail. Orders to provincial governors sent out from the Palace frequently set aside previous orders of the ministry; the intrigues of the Palace clique permeated every department of the public service and the attendants upon the Sultan succeeded in blinding him constantly to the real situation. The first thing that Haireddin Pasha did was to send away from Constantinople to different interior provinces nearly all the pashas who had previously held the office of grand vizier. This, of course, made them all his enemies and the result was that he found himself involved in a struggle for his very existence. More than this, he made it manifest that his idea of justice included the Christians just as much as the Moslems, and that Moslem oppression of Christian subjects met with no favor at his hands. All these elements, combined with the financial stress, for which in the popular mind he was held responsible, helped on the struggle. At last he presented an ultimatum to the Sultan, in which he demanded his freedom, within the limits of responsibility, from the interference of the clerks and from intervention in the appointment of officials. The Sultan hesitated for some time, but at last refused to give this on the ground of its being a limitation of his royal prerogatives. Haireddin Pasha resigned, and his place was taken by the very men whom he had sent away.
Immediately following on this experience came the trouble in Egypt. Mehemet Ali had been followed by Abbas, a brutal voluptuary, and he by Ismail, a man of great ability, but of no conscience, who had pushed the country forward in some respects, but had so enslaved it by his personal extortion as almost to ruin it. Ismail was deposed by the de-
[page 327] ARABI PASHA.
mands of the European Powers interested in the conduct of the Suez Canal and the securing of the bonds that had been placed there, and was followed by Tewfik, a good-natured, well-disposed, but weak man, incompetent to meet the difficulties that encompassed him on every hand. Here again the financial question came to the front. The interest on the bonds must be paid whether the army officials were paid or not. Thus arose the demand for the national party and the revolt headed by Arabi Pasha, which resulted in the bombardment of Alexandria, the war in lower Egypt and the military occupation of the country by Great Britain. Another important element in this was the desire of the Sultan to regain his hold upon the country. By the firman given to Mehemet Ali, the Sultan was really no more than suzerain. He felt that this was derogatory to his honor and wished to reduce the Khedive to the position of Vali. The whole story of English, French and Turkish diplomacy here is beyond the limits as well as the scope of this book. It is sufficient to say that it furnished an additional influence in determining the policy of the following years, carried out by Abd-ul-Hamid II.
Immediately consequent on the trouble in Egypt itself came the rise of the Mahdi in the Sudan. References have already been made to the peculiar jealousy on the part of the Arabs as to the position held by the Sultans as caliphs of the Moslem world. That existed to a considerable degree not merely in Arabia, but throughout Africa. It was assisted by the terrible oppression of the Egyptian Government under the Khedive Ismail. All through upper Egypt, and especially in the Sudan, there was the bitterest feeling, and when in 1880 a certain Mohammed Ahmet, a boat-builder of Dongola and belonging to the Sennussi tribe, proclaimed himself as the
[page 328] THE MAHDI.
Mahdi, he almost immediately secured quite a following. The Mahdi, or last high priest, or Imam, of the family of Ali, according to Moslem tradition, entered a cave and henceforward disappeared from the world. The Shiite Moslems believe that he still exists, and look forward to his issuing from it again in pomp to rule the world. The Sunnites believe that he will appear only at the end of the world, when he will convert all mankind to Islam and reign as vicar of Jesus Christ. This boat-builder rapidly won veneration from the Arabs of his section by the learning he had acquired in the schools at Khartum and Berber, and his apparent piety. He also manifested considerable ability and gathered a large force of Arabs, making considerable advance, notwithstanding the fact that the Sherif of Mecca branded him as an impostor and the ecclesiastical Ottoman world refused to believe that he had any claim worthy of recognition. He set forth to conquer Egypt, defeated four expeditions sent against him by the Egyptian Government, annihilated the Egyptian army, composed of 10,000 soldiers, with 40 European officers, and captured Khartum, killing General Gordon Pasha, the famous English leader. Further than this, however, his power could not go, and English troops kept him within the region of his own Sudan.
Insignificant in a certain way in itself, this Mahdi movement exerted considerable influence throughout the empire. It assisted to focus attention upon the distinctively Moslem character of the Ottoman Government and furnished quite a factor in the decision which became manifest ere long on the part of the Sultan to conduct his empire on different bases from those accepted by his father, Abd-ul-Medjid, or his grandfather, Mahmud II. In truth the Sultan seemed shut up
[page 329] REACTION.
to one of two courses. He must either enter with his whole soul into the
line marked out by Haireddin Pasha, or he must identify himself still more
closely with the distinctively Moslem element in his empire. He found himself
unable, even if he had been desirous, to do the former, and undoubtedly seemed
to himself to be shut up to the latter. His principle, therefore, of government,
as made manifest by the subsequent history of his reign and illustrated very
fully in a later chapter, was to satisfy the Moslem element in his empire,
whether the Christian element was satisfied or not. Accordingly he commenced
a systematic course of developing the Moslem power and prestige at the expense
of the Christians. Little by little he replaced Christians by Moslems in the
administrative offices of the government; he indorsed increasingly restrictive
laws, by which the Christian communities were deprived of very much of the
advance that had been made manifest during the three preceding reigns. At
first this policy was not altogether apparent, and it is possible that it
was not definitely decided upon. Those who know the Turkish Empire, know how
many things go by default; how one movement leads to another, and the result
is a situation not recognized and not planned for at the beginning, but which
becomes, as a matter of fact, a settled, definite policy. In this it is not
necessary to suppose that the Sultan himself laid down the definite rules.
Unquestionably a large part of it was due to the same influences that deposed
Haireddin, the local officials both in Constantinople and the provinces. That
this was true was evident in many ways. Decisions would be secured from the
officers of the Porte, orders would be sent to the provinces with regard to
various matters, and the reply would come after awhile that the orders had
[page 330] THE ARMENIAN QUESTION.
been carried out, and investigation would make manifest the fact that at the same time that these orders had been given, counter orders had been sent to the same official in a private way, absolutely annulling the general orders. The situation thus became increasingly difficult, when, after ten years or so, the Armenian question began to assume special prominence. The Armenian question, as such, began with the treaty of Berlin. Previous to that there had been other questions: the Greek question, the Bulgarian question — the former resulting in the independence of Greece, and the latter in the independence of Bulgaria. Throughout Asiatic Turkey there had been no distinctive question of any sort; Armenians, Greeks, Jacobites, all had suffered alike under the general oppression. With the treaty of Paris, however, there began an increasing manifestation of the power of Russia in the protection of Greeks throughout the empire. The Armenians had had no special patron, but as they increased in wealth and in general prosperity, and also in education, learning more of their ancient history, it was natural that there should develop among them the idea of a renewed national life. The growth of this has already been described in general in the chapter on the Armenians; so also reference has been made to the various influences that were at work in forming this national movement. Here we dwell more especially upon the political side of that movement. Those who have followed the very brief summary that has been given in the preceding chapters of the political intrigues and influences, operating throughout the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries, will see how constant was the influence of Russia, exercised first among the Greeks on the shores of the Mediterranean, then in the various Danubian Provinces and finally in Bulgaria;
[page 331] RUSSIAN INFLUENCE.
always they had for their purpose the stirring of hostility between Turks and Christians, and the enkindling of a feeling of dependence upon Russia as the only Power that could secure for them such national development as they desired. The same thing became manifest after a few years among the Armenians. The Pan-Slavist committee that had really fanned into flame the embers of hostility to the Turks in the Balkan Peninsula, with a view to the incorporation of those Slavic races with the Russians into a great Slavic empire, hardly found a congenial field among the Armenians. These latter are of different race and schismatics in religion and are looked upon by the Slavs everywhere as having no particular relations to themselves. They could form no integral part of the grand scheme, and there was no such feeling of sympathy for them as was distinctly manifest toward the Bulgarians, Servians, and others. Still the Russians never gave up their idea of an empire that should take in the whole of the Eastern Roman world, and replace the crescent by the cross on the dome of St. Sophia. Crippled even by their victory in the Russo-Turkish war, with great problems of internal administration staring them in the face, with opportunities opening in the far East and on the very borders of India, Turkey assumed for the time being a somewhat minor position in Russian diplomatic plans. At the same time it was never entirely out of sight, and there became manifest, before many years had passed by, the indications of another current of influence spreading from the Armenians of the Caucasus throughout the whole of Turkey. Whether these embassies were directly in the employ of a Russian organization or not, it is probably impossible to say; it may be that they were simply in sympathy with the desire referred to in a previous chapter of establishing an
[page 332] TREATY OF BERLIN.
Armenia again in the ancestral region extending from Ararat on the north to Van on the south. But whatever the immediate connection may have been, the fact remains that Russian-Armenian influences began to make themselves manifest within not many years after the signing of the treaty of Berlin, especially in certain sections. They found indeed very fertile soil in which to work. The two clauses of the treaty of Berlin to which the Armenians looked as furnishing them the hope of a better national life were the 61st and 62d articles, which read as follows:
“Art. 61. The Sublime Porte engages to realize without delay those ameliorations and reforms which local needs require in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and guarantees their security against the Circassians and the Kurds. It undertakes to make known, from time to time, the measures taken with this object to the Powers, who will watch over their application.
“Art. 62. The Sublime Porte having expressed its willingness to maintain the principle of religious liberty, and to give it the widest sphere, the contracting parties take cognizance of this spontaneous declaration. In every part of the Ottoman Empire difference of religion should not be held as a motive of exclusion or unfitness in anything that relates to the use of civil and political rights, admission to public offices, duties, and honors, and the exercise of all professions and industries, in whatever locality it may be. All should be admitted before the tribunals, the exercise and external practice of all religions should be entirely free, and no impediment should be offered either to the hierarchical organization of the different communions or to their spiritual chiefs; ecclesiastics, pilgrims, and monks of all nationalities traveling in European and Asiatic
[page 333] ARMENIAN AUTONOMY.
Turkey shall enjoy the same rights, advantages, and privileges. The right of official protection is accorded to the diplomatic and consular agents of the Powers in Turkey, no less with regard to the persons above mentioned, with their religious and charitable establishments, than to others in the Holy Places and elsewhere. The rights conceded to France are expressly reserved, it being well understood that the status quo with respect to the Holy Places shall not be seriously affected in any way. The monks of Mount Athos, whatever their nationality, shall be maintained in possession of their possessions and previous advantages, and shall enjoy without exception full equality of rights and prerogatives.”
The most cursory reading of these in the light of the succeeding years shows how completely the Turkish Government had failed to carry out any one of the different promises made in these articles, especially in that with regard to the Armenians. It was, perhaps, not unnatural that the first idea of those who plead the Armenian cause at Berlin should have been to secure an autonomous province. They had seen Bulgaria developed; they had seen also the growth of Rumania, of Greece and of Servia into kingdoms, and many of them could not understand why there might not be an Armenia. They looked upon the whole section extending south from the east end of the Black Sea, and including Van, as their ancestral property. Whatever there was there of Kurdish or Turkish occupation was really usurpation, and they felt that if the Powers of Europe would simply support them, they could assert their right and overpower these intruders. But even if there were not a distinct national province, they had seen the success of the plan developed in Syria. In the province of the Lebanon there were Moslems in great
[page 334] PURPOSE OF THE LEADERS.
numbers; nevertheless a Christian governor had been granted, and there had been for fifteen years such peace and prosperity as had not been known for centuries. At least this much might be secured to them. They, however, took the position that they would get in proportion as they asked; hence they asked for the greatest that could be given, with the expectation probably, at least on the part of the better informed, of securing not that, but something less, which should be after all a great advance on the condition at that time.
As, however, the general discussion of the question came up more and more prominently, the Armenian leaders began to see that there was a very widespread feeling that the Armenian nation was not equal to the position which they claimed for themselves. To begin with, they were a distinct minority in the very country that they desired to own; moreover the inhabitants of that section were in a considerable degree of the more ignorant classes. They were rude in their speech, uncultured in their manners, ignorant of almost all that pertains to national life. True, this was not their fault; it was rather a misfortune due to centuries of oppression. Still, there was the fact. Moreover, there was no organization that bound all the Armenians together. They were scattered communities with no bond of union, except their language and their church creed. These communities were ignorant of each other and jealous of each others’ prosperity. The first thing, therefore, apparently that presented itself to the minds of the leaders was a general propaganda throughout the Armenians of the Turkish Empire, with a view to developing the national idea, and also with a view toward some form of organization, so that when the time for action came, they would be in a degree united. This was
[page 335] EDUCATION.
undoubtedly the chief purpose of such men as Minas Tcheraz, who was at Berlin, and of the wisest men among the leaders. They understood the situation, and set themselves to accomplishing what they could. Had the movement remained in their hands, there is little probability but that the ultimate result, if not in accord with their highest ambition, would have been a better condition than the present. Here, however, appeared another phase.
There is in every nation a certain element of the heedless and reckless, seeing only the end to be gained, and impatient of the best means of reaching that end. Scattered throughout Europe were a number of Armenians who, having imbibed the free-thought ideas developed in the French Revolution, and fired by the experiences of 1848, were utterly impatient of the slower process of education. They were hot-headed and ambitious rather for themselves than for the nation, and they pointed to the experiences of Bulgaria and of the Greeks. They claimed that this slower process of education was all very well, but it would accomplish nothing. It might go on for generations without securing any definite national life. They pointed out that the European nations would never interfere except for their own interests; that England, France, and Europe generally, had cared nothing for the Bulgarian troubles until the massacres compelled interference in order to prevent Russia from overpowering themselves. From this the argument was easy that the Armenians could accomplish nothing unless the European Governments saw that there was such a state of anarchy throughout Asiatic Turkey as would compel their interference in order to prevent the general collapse, which every one feared would be the result of a widespread European war.
[page 336] THE HUNTCHAGISTS.
Their argument was simply, “ These European Governments, especially England, will never help Armenians practically until they see that they have got to help them in order to save themselves from great danger; the only way to secure this is to stir the Turkish Government just as it was stirred in Bulgaria, and secure some kind of atrocities that shall focus the attention of the Christian world upon the Turkish Empire.” This general argument was reinforced by the presence among the Armenians of the Nihilistic tendencies developed in Russia.
The result was the formation of a revolutionary society called the Huntchagists. Just where it was formed, just who were its members, and just where and how it operated, is not yet definitely evident. Contemporary history is seldom if ever complete. It is sufficient to say that in Athens, Marseilles and London there were coteries of Armenians who made it their business to stir strife throughout the nation. They sent emissaries through the length and breadth of the Turkish Empire. These met with the younger, more adventurous and less scrupulous element to be found in every nation, and commenced a general propaganda. Where there was oppression, that oppression was made the most of in public prints; stories of the most atrocious type were told. The Turkish rule was bad enough, but it was made to appear infinitely worse than it was by these men. But they found that this was not sufficient. They became apparently exasperated by their failure to rouse their own people to the pitch of excitement which they deemed essential in order to accomplish their purpose. Hence they commenced attacks of one kind and another, not merely upon the Moslems, but upon their fellow-countrymen who did not support them.
[page 337] PLACARDS.
Threats were allowed to be heard of what the Armenians would do to anybody and everybody they did not like. It was inevitable that these should be heard; it was intended that they should be heard. Turkish governors were on the watch. One of the shrewdest of the provincial governors, a man whose general conduct of his office was by no means of the harshest, had the cannon of his capital trained upon an Armenian church because of the stories that came to him of the threats of these men. Then came the widespread use of revolutionary placards. Apparently they were posted by the Turks themselves, but whether this was true or not seemed uncertain. Naturally the Turkish officials began to exercise harshness. They felt that they were fighting some unseen foe and the results appeared in the form of arbitrary arrests and the most cruel punishments. Just when this general work commenced it seems to be impossible to say. Within ten years after the treaty of Berlin there were signs of the existence of this influence, but the most marked indications were manifest in 1892, coming to a head in the early part of 1893.
About this time the revolutionists, whether members of the Huntchagist party or not, seemed to have come to the conviction that there must be some overt act that should accomplish what they had in view — the focusing of the attention of Europe upon themselves. They seemed at first to be at somewhat of a loss as to the best method of doing this. Finally, under just what influences is not evident, they gathered, especially in the region of Marsovan and Yuzgat, and placards began to appear, sometimes on public buildings, sometimes on the walls of houses. On the night of the 5th of January, 1893, scores, even hundreds of these placards,
[page 338] AMERICANS THREATENED.
were posted in many places, all of a seditious character, rousing opposition against the government. Two were found affixed to the outer gate of the premises of the American Board missionaries at Marsovan, but before the paste upon them was dry they were pulled down by persons belonging to the college, who were passing through the gates. These placards were addressed to the Turks and full of denunciation of the government for its oppression and general corruption. Within ten days arrests began to be made. The chief of police was given full authority to investigate the matter, but his previous record and subsequent conduct showed him to be utterly unfit for the work. He was brutal, utterly regardless of law and simply bent upon wreaking personal vengeance wherever possible.
Just what the object was in endeavoring to identify the American buildings with this movement, it is not difficult to see. Americans are almost the only foreigners dwelling in the interior of Turkey. They are under peculiar protection by treaty rights. They are well known over the world, and throughout the whole period of their residence in Turkey have identified themselves very closely with the efforts to ameliorate the condition of the people. Anything that could identify them with anti-government manifestations would call down upon them the hostility of the government. That would result in damage of some sort, and this would call the attention of the foreign governments, which it was hoped would accomplish the end in view. With this it is entirely possible that there may have been personal bitter feeling. Not a few Armenians have felt that the missionaries were undermining their national life by their opposition to ecclesiastical formalism, and in their attacks on atheism and infidelity they were
[page 339] DISTURBANCE IN MARSOVAN.
charged by many with hindering the progress of free thought. Whatever the immediate purpose, this much was accomplished, that the attention of the Turkish Government was directed very forcibly to the missionaries. The chief of police, who perhaps had his own reasons for hostilities to the Americans, took advantage of the opportunity to threaten both the college and its teachers, charging the institution with being a source of sedition and affirming that the placards were issued from Anatolia College, since they were written by a cyclostyle such as the missionaries used. It was also reported throughout the city that the buildings were to be burned, and that high officials had declared that the college site should be a plowed field. In less than two weeks the senior Armenian professor of the college, Mr. Thoumaian, and a little later another member of the faculty, Professor Kayayan, were arrested and imprisoned, and every request to see them or to give bail for them was refused. There was not the slightest evidence that they had had anything to do with the issuing of the placards, and the whole charge seems to have been made for the purpose of furnishing a basis for an attack upon the college.
On the night of February 1st, one of the buildings which was in process of erection for the girls’ school was set on fire. The presence of soldiers and officials near the building before alarm could possibly have been given, indicated their connection with it, but the charge was immediately made that the college authorities themselves had fired the building either to excite revolt among the Armenians or conceal the presence of arms and ammunition. These charges were sent on to Constantinople and the animus of the government is shown in its appointment of the same local officials, notoriously corrupt, and who were known to have threatened the college, for the
[page 340] TRIALS AND TORTURE.
conduct of the examination. There was general disturbance throughout the whole region, with outbreaks in a number of places: Yuzgat, Gemerek, Cesarea, and elsewhere. Large numbers of arrests were made until certainly between two and three hundred Armenians, against whom no charge could be found, were imprisoned. The professors were not released even on bail and there was great excitement throughout the region.
Throughout the summer of 1893 the excitement continued to increase. Commissions were appointed to try these men in prison. At the trials, torture of the most atrocious kind was used to extort confession of guilt and charges against prominent men. Very little, however, was learned, and at last most of those arrested were released, though many were transferred to the different fortresses at the Island of Rhodes, near Mersine, and at St. Jean d’Acre in Syria. Among these were some Protestant pastors who had had no share whatever in the disturbance, but were looked upon with suspicion by the Turkish Government for their liberal ideas. The professors were put on trial. No proof whatever was found against them, and at last, on special protest by the English Government, they were released on condition of leaving the country. One feature in the investigations was the presence of a large number of documents, apparently in the hand-writing of some of the arrested men. It appeared, however, on investigation, that there were a large number of forgeries, one of the American missionaries finding his own name signed to some papers. The question of the burning of the school building was taken up earnestly by the American Government and indemnity was secured from Turkey, together with a permit to rebuild.
[page 341] AMERICAN CITIZENS.
In one sense the revolutionists had achieved their purpose. They had attracted
attention, and it had become very evident to Europe that matters in Turkey
were going from bad to worse. The great activity of the Turkish Government,
however, made their position in Turkey quite difficult. They appeared less
and less in the country itself for some time, but took their station outside,
and through Europe and even in this country they made general charges against
the Turkish Government and gathered funds to continue from a safe position
the general propaganda which had been started in Turkey. At this point a new
phase of their work appeared. For some time there had been considerable effort
on the part of Armenians to secure American citizenship, return to Turkey
and demand the same protection at the hands of the Turkish Government that
was accorded to native-born American citizens. The diplomatic relations of
this will be referred to in another chapter on the relations between America
and Turkey. In some respects they were able thus to accomplish a good deal,
but some serious difficulties arose. Individuals claiming American protection
were charged by the Turkish Government with exerting seditious influence,
and complaints were made to the United States Government with regard to it.
The position was taken by this government that it could not force upon the
Turkish Government the continued presence of its own citizens who were not
desired by that government. This aroused a great cry and increasing efforts
were made to secure at the hands of this government complete protection. The
chief effect, however, was to direct attention more than ever to their work,
and letters appeared from different parts of Turkey protesting against the
influences that went forth from these revolu-
[page 342] EXTENT OF REVOLUTION.
tionary committees, taking the ground that they were having simply the effect of arousing the hostility of the Turkish officials, while they were accomplishing no good purpose.
As has already been said, the extent of this revolutionary movement it is impossible to state accurately. The members of the committees are not known; how widely their movement had received, if not the absolute indorsement, at least the sympathy of their own people, is also very uncertain. This much, however, is unquestionable, that while individuals in various parts of the empire did have this sympathy with the revolutionary idea, there were very few indeed who carried it to the extreme favored by the committee. Occasionally a man would be found who would say, as one did to one of the missionaries, “ If I had my way I would kill you immediately. That would bring the whole matter to a crisis, and it would be the best thing for us.” But this was entirely repugnant to most of those who favored overt action, and the great majority of Armenians in every portion of the empire not only had no share in the plans, but where they knew of them, bitterly opposed them. As a matter of fact the revolutionary movement has never been a national movement. It has represented individual ideas, and while those individuals were to a degree numerous, especially in certain sections, they have never represented the great mass of the people. The influence of the American missionaries, the influence of the Armenian ecclesiastics and of the better informed in the nation, was strongly against any such attempt. All knew that it was madness. The facts, that the Armenians were so scattered throughout the empire, that they were untrained in the use of arms, that so little organization was possible among them, all combined to make the movement a
[page 343] YOUNG TURKEY PARTY.
most atrocious wrong to the people. At the same time it had its effect upon the Turks, both government and people. The appearance of the placards was attended to a considerable degree by talk among the people, which spread until there became a widely extended feeling that there was a revolution impending, and the Turks in many places really felt afraid of the influence that might be exerted through the Christian population. In some places this amounted to panic, and there were not a few cases during 1893 and in the early part of 1894, when Turkish officials had all they could do to restrain the hostile manifestations of the Moslem communities. Another effect was that it gave force to the arguments of the reactionary Turks, who claimed that all this yielding to the desires of the Christians was nonsense, and that the only thing for the Sultan to do was to set himself deliberately against them and to make it very clear that in Turkey the Turk ruled and Islam would brook no rival.
In this immediate connection mention should be made of an undoubted fact. The elements among the Turks represented by Haireddin Pasha, called variously the Party of Progress, or the Young Turkey Party, were at the same time carrying on a certain propaganda, to what extent it is impossible to say. Their leaders, among them Midhat Pasha, and those who had been associated with him, had been exiled and put to death. They themselves had been scattered in one way or another over the empire. Constantinople, and indeed all Europe, was aroused by the story of a number of young Turks who came from an interior city to Constantinople, were seen upon the steamer, and then disappeared from view. Whither they went no one could tell. Afterwards individuals appeared claiming to be members of that company and saying
[page 344] FAILURE OF HUNTCHAGISTS.
that they had been arrested and sent into exile only to return with great difficulty. There was a general feeling that revolution was in the air. The Huntchagists represented the Armenian phase of it; the Young Turkey Party the Moslem phase of it. Each probably helped the other; each laid upon the other the responsibility for certain acts aimed against the government. The Armenians said that the placards at Marsovan, etc., were posted by the Turks; the Turks retorted the charge upon the Armenians. Just where the truth is, it will probably be some years before it is possible to state with accuracy.
In the events that followed the massacres at Sassun, Constantinople, Erzrum, etc., the traces of Huntchagists are apparent in some; absolutely wanting in others. Since then the party seems to have disappeared from view. Nothing is heard of it; nothing said about it. If it exists, it is hiding itself, partly, it is to be hoped, in shame and remorse for the cruelties that have at least in good measure resulted from its folly, partly because its schemes have been brought absolutely to naught by the dominating power of Russia. They started out for an autonomous Armenia. They failed absolutely of securing even a moderate reform in the condition of their people. Conceived in conceit, in treachery and in falsehood, its fruit has been ruin and misery of the worst type.
Table of Contents
| The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright
Introduction | Preface | Turkey in Asia (map) | Table of Contents (as in the book)
List of Illustrations | 1. The Turkish Empire | 2. Population and Languages | 3. Religions
4. The Turks | 5. The Kurds | 6. The Armenians | 7. The Greeks | 8. Other Oriental Churches
9. Rise and Decline of Ottoman Power | 10. Turkey and Europe | 11. Russia and Turkey
12. Mahmud II | 13. Reform and Progress | 14. Treaties of Paris and Berlin
15. Condition of the Christians | 16. The Turkish Government | 17. Protestant Missions in Turkey
18. The Armenian Question | 19. General Situation in 1894 | 20. The Sassun Massacre
21. Politics and Massacre at Constantinople | 22. Massacres at Trebizond and Erzrum
23. Massacres in Harput District | 24. Aintab, Marash and Urfa | 25. Character of the Massacres
26. Religious Persecution | 27. Relief Work | 28. Partition of Turkey | 29. America and Turkey
30. General Survey | Alphabetical Index
Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities.
Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
J. Rendel Harris
& B. Helen Harris, Letters
from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia