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Edwin Munsell Bliss

TURKEY AND THE ARMENIAN ATROCITIES


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[page 345]

CHAPTER XIX.

GENERAL SITUATION IN 1894.

Terrible Oppression — Exaggerated Reports — Truth Stranger Than Fiction — Religious Liberty Infringed Upon — Oppressive School Laws — Rigorous Censorship — General Effort of the Government to Suppress Christian Development.

The situation in the summer of 1894 throughout the empire was one bordering on anarchy. From every section of the country came word of the most atrocious treatment by the Turkish Government of its Christian subjects. Taxes were imposed in a way that in the already impoverished condition of the country was simply ruinous. The effect of the action of the revolutionists in Marsovan had been to arouse very bitter feeling against them on every hand and to create an impression, even among those favorable to the nation, that they were chiefly responsible for the situation. At the same time reports were sent to the European papers of the most thrilling type. Some of these were true, most were based upon truth, but there was not a little exaggeration in details. Great excitement was aroused by the publication in the English papers of a detailed statement furnished by the Vienna correspondent of the Daily News as to the treatment of Armenian prisoners in Central Asia Minor. According to this, hundreds of them were cast into prison, stripped of their clothes and tortured in the most diabolical manner.

[page 346] ATROCITIES

While men were beaten, women were outraged in the presence of their husbands and fathers, and general atrocities committed that surpassed in horror those of the invasions of the Goths and Huns. Careful investigation showed that while these charges were in some sense correct, the impression made by them in general was often false. In one case the hundreds dwindled to twenty-eight, and while there was outrage enough to stir the indignation of every righteous man, there was exaggeration enough to enable the Turkish Government to represent that these stories were based upon a general desire to create trouble. Instances innumerable might be given of the methods adopted with regard to individuals. A few must suffice. An intelligent Armenian physician had been practicing for some years in one of the cities in Central Asia Minor. He had a good reputation, and both Greeks and Turks as well as Armenians patronized him and urged him to accept the office of city physician. With some reluctance he yielded. A petition was sent to Constantinople and he was appointed. He found the drinking water of the city polluted by the proximity of slaughter-houses and water closets to the water course. He reported the case to the local government in accordance with his duty as health officer. As nothing was done by them he appealed to the Governor-General of the province, but without any result. Then, following out strict orders from Constantinople with regard to the prevention of cholera, he reported to the health department at Constantinople and the headquarters of the army corps of the district. The Governor-General thereupon received a reprimand, and in great anger summoned the physician to the capital of the province. A request to go to his home for warmer clothing, for it was in mid-winter, was met with stern refusal, and a police force of

[page 347] HOMELESS

twenty men with an officer at their head dragged him through the markets and the streets for more than half a mile, to the outskirts of the city, where he lay for half an hour unconscious. When he recovered he was placed upon a horse, but he could not sit up, and was tied to his back. The governor, in great rage, said that he should not be allowed to live in the province at all. Requests of people from another city that he come there, were not granted.
As another illustration, a photographer of one city presented the usual charge for some pictures made on the order of an official. The governor summoned him, and roared out, “Are not you one of those local Armenians that I can make rot ?” So terrified was the poor man that he was glad to slink away and say nothing about pay.

These are but illustrations of what was done over the whole empire by the order of high officials, until there became a veritable reign of terror, and no man felt his life or property, or the honor of his wife and daughter safe, in any interior city, town or village. Perhaps, however, the most forcible setting forth of the situation is found in a statement not in regard to the ordinary brutality of officials, or the rapacity of Kurds. It had become more and more evident that there was a general plan of the government to intensify by its oppression, as much as possible, the recognition on the part of the Christians of their absolute subordination to Moslems. In response to a special request from the British ambassador, a statement was drawn up by persons thoroughly well-posted in regard to the general condition, and from that statement are taken in considerable degree the facts that follow.
One of the glories of the administration of Abdul Medjid was the Hatti Humayoun of 1856, the charter of liberty and

[page 348] DISPLACING CHRISTIANS.

equality to the Christians of Turkey. This has already been referred to in preceding chapters, and needs no further description here, except to recall the statement that its aim was the carrying into effect of the principle of equality between the Mussulmans and non-Mussulmans of the empire. During the remainder of the reign of Abdul Medjid, and to a considerable extent during that of Abdul Aziz, this principle had been followed.

Soon after the treaty of Berlin, however, there became manifest a tendency to displace Christians by Moslems in responsible posts in every department of government in Asiatic Turkey. Some still remained, for the reason that there were practically no Moslems competent to fill the positions.

Administrative offices were even still to some extent occupied by Armenians or Greeks, but their number had been increasingly small. At the time of which we are speaking, 1894, there was in the Council of State, to which the administration of the interior provinces belongs, but one Christian member, notwithstanding the fact that measures affecting the vital interests of the Christian population were daily subjects for consideration. So also the High Council of the Ministry of Public Instruction, specially directed by the Hatti Humayoun to be a mixed council, had but one non-Moslem member, although it decided upon the interests of all Christian schools in the country. The Superior Council of Censorship had also a very insignificant proportion of non-Moslem members, notwithstanding the fact that by far the greatest number of books for Christians either published in Turkey or imported from without were by Protestants. Although the proportion of readers of books in the Protestant communities was far greater than in any other, there was not a single Protestant

[page 349] BOARD OF CENSORS.

on this council, or indeed in any high council or responsible position under the government. One result of this was seen in the absurd laws passed by the Board of Censors with regard to the introduction and publication of books. Instances of this kind could be given in numbers; thus the word Armenia was stricken out of every book. A translation of the hymn —

“ The children are gathering from near and from far,
The trumpet is sounding the call for the war,”

was forbidden as being revolutionary, and even a number of English hymn books were detained for weeks and months by the Board of Censors, in the search for the English version of this same hymn.

One of the special points in the Hatti Humayoun was the suppression of the ancient custom of making the police agents collectors of taxes. This had given rise to grave abuses. Little by little the usage was restored and finally, in the summer of this year, an imperial edict set aside the work of that charter, by appointing the police throughout the country to be tax-collecting agents, with a system of rewards to those officers who should succeed best in collecting money. Torture and capital punishment were absolutely forbidden by this same charter, yet in the trials in regard to the disturbances at Angora, in 1893, and at Yuzgat, in 1894, torture of the most inhuman character was extensively used in order to force men to testify according to the orders of the officials. An Armenian at Marsovan was flogged until his back was raw flesh, to force him to sign a declaration that certain Americans were plotting with Armenians an insurrection. An Armenian blacksmith, in the province of Angora, was made insane by the torture inflicted on him in prison.

[page 350] BRUTAL INSULTS.

Residents in Constantinople and throughout the empire in the early years of the century had been accustomed to hear the most opprobrious epithets used to them by Turks of every grade. Under the influence of Abdul Medjid and the Hatti Humayoun this diminished greatly, and as a consequence the social relations grew more and more friendly. During the five years previous to 1894, however, a marked change was noticed everywhere throughout the empire. There was far more of brutality in the treatment of individuals; there was an increasing lack of regard for the customs of the Christians. The governor of Nicomedia, only sixty miles from Constantinople, ordered a leading Christian merchant of that place to open his shop for business on Sunday. On his refusal to do that which his religion forbade, this same officer publicly and abominably reviled the religion that taught him such a thing. He then struck the merchant in the face and tried by fierce threats to compel him to “obey the orders of an officer of the Sultan.” In the province of Erzrum some soldiers came to a village on Sunday and demanded sacks to carry grain. They were requested to wait until the close of the service when the sacks would be furnished. They however entered the church, bawled out to the preacher to stop the service, and even drew their swords upon the men who sought to quiet this interruption. An officer of a Christian community in another city had occasion to go to police headquarters for a document. He was met with a torrent of unspeakably vile abuse of himself and the most-sacred things of his religion. There.were a large number of officers and privates of the police present, but not one remonstrated. In no case was there any possibility of redress, although twenty

[page 351] TREATMENT OF CHRISTIANS.

years before, punishment would have been accorded promptly to the offending officers.

With regard to the general treatment of the Christian peasants in the districts of Eastern Turkey, it is impossible to give anything like an adequate conception of the situation. Not merely were the villagers subject to open robbery by the Kurds, but to the scarcely less ruinous extortion carried on by the lower government officials. The outrages carried on by Kurds under their new semi-military organization, had given occasion to petition after petition to the Central Government. No attention, however, was paid to them, and in 1893 orders were sent from Constantinople forbidding the transmission of any more petitions against these regiments. But it was not merely the Kurds that the people had to fear. Reference has already been made to the Circassians that were brought in in such numbers from the Caucasus. They had spread themselves over Western Asia Minor, and while at first less bold became, during the five years under special survey, so arrogant that no Christian farmer could hope to hold his property if it pleased the eye of one of these men. A general survey of the whole situation leaves the inevitable impression of a plan officially adopted to wage an indirect war upon the whole Christian population by crushing them, reducing them to poverty, and to clear them off from the face of the land in order to replace them by a Moslem population.

That this plan was a general one against all non-Moslems is evidenced by the fact that the oppression and the injustice was by no means confined to the Armenian villages and towns. The Greek villages suffered only in a secondary measure, while the Christian population of Mesopotamia suffered fully as much. In The Independent of New York, in the issue of

[page 352] KURDISH EXACTIONS.

January 17th, 1895, was published a long statement as to the exactions made upon the various villages by the Kurdish chiefs and also by the government officials. The following is an illustration of the latter. During the summer of 1894 the government demanded back taxes from a certain village to a large amount, which according to the villagers had no foundation in justice. They had already been impoverished and had no means of paying the tax. Under very heavy pressure from the government, however, they raised a part of the sum by mortgaging their fields and future crops, leaving a balance which they absolutely could not pay. Driven to desperation by the soldiers, who insisted upon collecting the taxes, they entirely deserted their village and fled to the mountains. After some months the government endeavored to induce them to return, and promised redress for their wrongs. When however they did return, still increased pressure was brought to bear upon them to secure money. In a number of villages the people were literally bought as slaves. In some cases the food supply, beds, household utensils, farmers’ implements were seized by the collectors in lieu of taxes. These collectors then made false returns of taxes received, and when the new officials came, using the incomplete reports of their predecessors they again collected the taxes, entailing much suffering.

In still further proof of the statement that the situation was the result of a general plan for the suppressing of the Christians, attention should be called to a series of facts with regard to aggressions upon specific religious liberty. Before,1856, an imperial firman (permit) had been required for all Christian churches, and worship in any others than those indorsed by the Imperial Government was absolutely forbidden.

[page 353] A NEW EDICT.

After that date the Hatti Humayoun recognized the right of all people to worship as they saw fit; and while the construction of churches was especially referred for authorization by imperial firman, the right to read the Testament, as worship was called, in private dwellings was fully acknowledged.
From that time until 1891, this liberty was enjoyed throughout the country. When it became a question of the erection of a large church to be consecrated for divine service, the imperial permit was always secured. But there were many cases in smaller villages and towns, and even in cities, where the community was not large enough to warrant an expensive building, where the people gathered in a room in a private house. This served for service on Sunday and sometimes on week days; also for private schools, and meantime was in many instances a dwelling place for the family of the preacher or teacher. It was not until 1891 that the Sublime Porte questioned for the first time officially the right of Christians to conduct worship in this way in private houses. In the following year an edict was issued which took advantage of the fact that in certain cases worship was conducted in the same room as private schools, and basing its claim upon the recognized law that schools were under general imperial supervision, decreed the suppression of worship in schools not formally authorized and found to be without permits after a stipulated time. When objection was made to this, the reply was that this was a technical measure, bringing existing places of worship under regular forms, and promising that permits would be issued promptly on application. As a matter of fact several permits were thus issued. But two years later a new move was made in this same direction and a

[page 354] RIGHT TO WORSHIP.

number of places of Protestant worship throughout Asiatic Turkey were suppressed, under the claim that no worship at all could be carried on in any building that had not received specific authorization by imperial firman. The situation was explained by a provincial official as follows: “ Every place where a Christian says his prayers is reckoned as a church,, and a church cannot exist without an imperial firman.” The result of this was that there were numerous cases all over the country, not merely in the interior, but in Constantinople and in Syria, where the Protestants were prohibited from worship.

One case deserves special note. For many years the Protestant community in Stamboul, or the city proper of Constantinople, had worshipped in a private house under the general permit accorded in 1856. That building became unsafe through age and a new one was desired. Petition after petition was made, and every conceivable pretext, and many that seemed absolutely inconceivable, was brought forward to prevent their securing the right to worship. Similar instances occurred in Sidon, in Syria, others in the provinces of Trebizond, Harput, Angora and Adana. In the city of Ordu, not far from Trebizond, where there was a large Protestant community, effort after effort was made to secure a building, and one was at last obtained after repeated applications. Objections, however, were made by local Greek priests, and the Turkish Government took advantage of this and stopped the worship. It thus became notorious that the government would take advantage of every pretext of whatever kind, whether of hostility on the part of local magnates or of what they considered general welfare, to check so far as possible the spread of Christian worship. Of course the

[page 355] SUPPRESSING SCHOOLS.

regularly authorized churches were not disturbed, whether belonging to Armenians, Greeks, Jacobites or Protestants.

What is perhaps a still more marked instance of this is found in the action with regard to schools. According to the Hatti Humayoun the various communities were authorized to open schools and in the circular that attended the promulgation of the edict it was said:

“ In regard to schools created and erected by the communities, the most absolute liberty is left to them by the Imperial Government, which never intervenes save to prevent in cases of necessity the confiding of the direction of these schools to persons whose principles are notoriously hostile to the authority of the Imperial Government or contrary to public order.”

For twenty-eight years this liberty was fully enjoyed by the various Christian communities. The result was the springing up of a system of education over the whole country that changed in many respects the character of the various communities. The dominant cause for this is set forth in another chapter, that on mission work, and need not be explained here further than to say that the impulse was given by the American and English missonaries, but was cordially followed out by Armenian, Greek, Maronite, Bulgarian and other Christian communities, and had its effect even upon the Moslems themselves. In Syria in 1882, and throughout the empire in 1884, the government suddenly commenced to suppress Christian schools on the ground of lack of conformity to the school law of 1867. This was news to all. But on examination it was found that in an obscure paragraph preceded and. followed by matter relating solely to the organization of a governmental system, there was a single clause touching what are known as private schools. According to this these are permitted on condition that the course of

[page 356] HEAVY PENALTIES.

study, the books used, and the diplomas of the teachers be submitted for the approval of the local authorities. For fifteen years this had been held in abeyance, and was absolutely unknown until some thirty schools were closed in Syria for disobedience of it. Then followed a series of negotiations, which resulted in a declaration by the Minister of Public Instruction that existing Christian schools would not be molested if they submitted to control in the three points mentioned. Throughout the country there was general submission to this control, but on application for permits, the statement was uniformly made that they could be given to none but new schools.

This again blocked the way. Three years later a large number were closed for lack of permits. Then followed renewed negotiations; and a vizerial order was issued in 1889, confirming the declaration of the Minister of Public Instruction. Again three years later the edict referred to was issued, ordering the closing of all schools and places of worship which did not obtain formal permits within a specified time, though it was left to the will of the officials to issue or refuse the permits. The situation was then somewhat alleviated, but the next year a new difficulty arose. The local authorities claimed that the permits required were not those of the Department of Public Instruction but an imperial firman, and in 1894, the Sublime Porte declared that no school of any kind could exist without an imperial firman. Stringent orders were issued laying heavy penalties upon officials who neglected to close schools without permits. Teachers were forbidden to allow addresses to be made to scholars or to have essays read by scholars at public festivals without first submitting both to the censorship. No private house occupied by an authorized

[page 357] CENSORSHIP OF THE PRESS.

Christian school was to be repaired except by special order from Constantinople; houses or building lots could not be purchased by English, American or French subjects without a bond promising that the buildings should be razed to the ground if worship or schools were at any time established in them.

The inevitable result of this was to fill the provincial authorities with the idea that the Ottoman Government was hostile to Christian educational institutions.

Another illustration was the requirement by a decree issued in this same year that all Christian schools were to give considerable instruction in the Turkish language. Such an edict inevitably closed the schools in Damascus, in Mesopotamia and in certain portions of Asia Minor, where neither teachers nor scholars knew that language. About the same time there came to light the influence of a law issued in 1892, organizing an Imperial Civil Service school, which forbade the employment in government bureaus of any one graduating from other than government schools. Thus again a blow was struck at the higher education in Christian schools throughout the country.

In the same line with this was the action of the government with regard to censorship of the press and of books, whether those printed in the country or imported from abroad. Immediately following 1856, there was considerable freedom of action in this particular. While there was a general supervision of everything that was either printed or imported into the empire, there was manifest an inclination to trust to the honor of reputable publishers and importers. Occasionally there was transgression, but as a rule by private individuals, The large societies or printing houses invariably sought to.

[page 358] INCREASED RESTRICTIONS.

accord absolutely to the law, even where they found it extremely irksome. With the advent of the present Sultan, however, a change became manifest. Constantly increasing restrictions were placed. Law after law regulating the sale and publishing of books was issued, each more stringent than its predecessor. No book was allowed to be printed without carrying on its title page the permit of the Bureau of Censors, and no book was allowed to be imported without the stamp of the censors. Considerable negotiation in this regard resulted in a plan, which while irksome was not really injurious, and it was thought that everything would move rightly.

Soon, however, it became evident that still more restrict tions were to be enforced. The existing law was interpreted in the most absurd ways. As an illustration; a colporteur started out from the city of Erzrum to carry his books through the villages. He was stopped at the gate of the city by the
police. He showed his traveling passport and stated that all his books had the permit of the official board of censors. The officer would accept nothing and insisted upon his going to the government house. There his books were placed in a room and he was told to come after a few days. He came but there was no reply; there had been no time to examine the case. He came again, and at last by persistence secured the examination by the proper officer. This examination showed conclusively that everything was according to law, and the colporteur was permitted to go. He started again to the gate of the city, and found a new officer on duty. He was again arrested and sent back to the government house. Again there was a delay, until the same officer’s attention could be secured. This things happened several times and several weeks passed before the man could go on his way.

[page 359 - illustration]

Gateway into the War Department at Constantinople

[caption] GATEWAY INTO THE WAR DEPARTMENT AT CONSTANTINOPLE. The fire tower on the right. The horses are those used by persons wishing to go about the city, many of the streets being almost impassable for carriages. The wagons are what are called “ emigrant ” wagons, used for cartage by peasants, who have brought them from European Turkey.

[page 360 - illustration]

The City of Trebizond

[caption] THE CITY OF TREBIZOND, on the northern coast of Asia Minor. In the background is the Black Sea, and in the foreground the only harbor that there is. This is open to the northeast, so that there is really very little protection Trebizond was one of the first cities to suffer from massacre in the fall of 1895.

[page 361] SEVERE PUNISHMENT.

Instances innumerable of this kind could be given from all over the country.

The last law gave a list of subjects on which all publications were absolutely prohibited, so broad that any official might if he chose, exclude from this province all Christian literature. Any censor in the capital or in the interior provinces might reject a book if a single sentence in it appeared of doubtful meaning, and severe penalties upon the importation, sale, distribution or even transportation of any book which had not received the censors’ approval, were applied not merely to dealers but to private owners. The result of this was that again and again individuals were severely punished for having in their possession technically unauthorized books; that is, such as had been published before the existence of these later laws. The effect of this is seen in the fact that throughout the interior provinces of the empire it has been of late almost impossible to find any books at all, and the children of fairly educated parents are growing up in ignorance.

But the animus of the law was seen not only in its application to the interior provinces, but to the private libraries of foreigners, and to the local press in the border cities. In few countries has there been a greater newspaper development than in certain parts of Turkey. In Constantinople, there are a large number of daily papers in every language, Turkish, Armenian, Greek, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Judo-Spanish (for the large number of Spanish Jews), Bulgarian, Arabic and others. Over every one of these papers there was exercised the most rigid censorship; not merely local news, but foreign news was subjected to the most careful examination, and any item of any kind, that did not meet with the approval of the officers, was remorselessly stricken out.

[page 362] FALSE STATEMENTS.

More than that, every paper was compelled under penalty of instant suppression, to publish every item that the government saw fit to issue to it. The effect of this is seen in the statements in connection with the massacres. No statement of any kind with regard to these massacres was allowed, until they became so notorious that it was simply impossible to absolutely prevent them. Then the government issued official statements so utterly false, that not even the Turks themselves would believe them. The following paragraphs, from the paper referred to above, illustrate very fully the nature of many of these restrictions:

“ The censorship of foreign religious and literary works is so stringent as to deprive the Christians in Turkey of the ordinary means of keeping in touch with the advancement of knowledge among their co-religionists abroad. Such classics of English literature, for instance, as Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Scott, are refused authorization. So with the higher literature of any language. No standard History, no Encyclopedia, no treatise on metaphysics of any extended character, no full and extended theology or commentary on the Bible, can pass the censorship for introduction into the interior of Turkey. And if any minister or teacher, anxious to fill well his place, ventures to smuggle such books through or to possess the rudiments of a library, he is certain sooner or later to fall under the notice of the paid spy, and then must submit to the condemnation for the crime which the authorities; choose to consider to be “ incited ” by the history or theological work concerned. The effect of the refusal to admit the standard works of Christendom, in keeping teachers of Christian schools in Turkey down to the level of the primary school, need not be enlarged upon.

[page 363] PROHIBITED WORDS.

“ The censorship of books published within the empire is still more rigorous, no longer professing to confine itself to politics or to polemics in religion, but taking hold of and mutilating books designed for the religious instruction and encouragement of Christians. It is conceivable that here Mohammedan censors might defend their right to prohibit, as they do, the publication in Turkish, where Moslems might see them, of the noble works which have been the inspiration and the comfort of Christians in all ages. But it is not conceivable that justification can be found in the case of interference with the publication of such books, printed, not in Arabic letters that Moslems use, but in the Christian alphabets which no Mohammedan can read. Yet the Christian, anxious to aid his fellow-Christians to lead noble and useful lives, may not publish articles in his own religious newspapers, which contain, for instance, the quotation of texts of Scripture. These are commonly prohibited either on the plea that the texts are not suitable for the common people, or because they contain words which are forbidden, and cannot be altered by the publisher because they are the words of the Bible. For instance, a text which alludes to rising from the dead may not be used because the verb “ to rise” in some other context might mean something else. Any passage from the Bible is prohibited which contains any of the following words: Persecution, courage, liberty, strength, rights, union, equality, star (in astronomy one has to use the word “luminary” instead), king, palace, arms, bloodshed, tyranny, hero, etc., etc. In fact these words are prohibited in religious articles in any context whatever. A Christian religious newspaper may not place before its readers a hymn or other poetry, and from the hymn books used in Christian worship many of the grand old hymns

[page 364] VIRTUES PROHIBITED.

of the Church have been expunged, and the suppression sustained after appeal to the highest authority of the Porte. A Christian writer addressing Christians who know only Turkish, in the Turkish language, is constantly forbidden to use words of purely religious signification which are the words used in the Bible and the only ones known to the people to express a given idea, because the idea is held by the censor to belong to Mohammedanism alone. Of such are “ the guiding grace of God;” forbidden, because Moslems do not admit that Christians can have this grace. “ Good news,” the literal translation used in the Bible of the Greek word “ Evangelion,” commonly rendered in English as the Gospel. The use of this word is prohibited, because Moslems do not admit that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “good news.” “Apostle” (resoul) is a word found in everyday Turkish law in its sense of messenger. It is prohibited in the Christian newspaper press, because it implies that the Apostles of Jesus Christ were sent of God, which Moslems deny. The same prohibit tion, for Mohammedan religious reasons, lies upon the use, in Christian religious books or religious newspapers, of references to our Saviour as “ the Saviour of the world ” or to his shedding his blood for the cleansing from sin.

“ But aside from these interferences, the censors refuse to allow certain subjects of religious discourse to be presented to Christians. Thus the virtues of manliness, of moral courage, or resignation under affliction, of hope in God under adversity, are all subjects concerning which Christian religious books may not speak to Christians. The same is true of exhortations to benevolence, of practical suggestions to Christians as to means of copying Jesus Christ in doing good to others, of suggestions of Christian evangelistic work among

[page 365] MINISTERS MOLESTED.

the ignorant and degraded of the Christian communities, and of reference to Christian missions and their operations in other parts of the world.

“ Besides all this, Protestant ministers are molested in their services when they preach upon these normal themes of their religion. The Protestant pastor of Yuzgat was expelled from the place for no other offence. The Protestant pastor at Sungurlu was compelled to leave that town for preaching on the resurrection from the dead. The Protestant pastor from Gemerek is undergoing imprisonment in the fortress of St. Jean d’Acre for no other offence, to judge from the evidence produced at his trial. The Protestant pastor at Chakmak, near Cesarea, has just been thrown into prison; and those who know his law-abiding and sterling character, assure us that his efforts to lead his flock into closer adherence to Bible Christianity are his only crime. Protestant pastors everywhere declare that they are compelled, in choosing texts from the Bible, and in framing their exhortations upon them, to hesitate, and paraphrase, and weigh words, through fear that if they speak of the consolations of Christianity, they will be charged with encouraging discontent; if they urge resistance to sin, they will be condemned for suggesting resistance to the Turkish Government; or if they speak of the demand of Christianity for pure and noble character, they will be charged with inciting men to unlawful aspirations. On complaint being made of such restrictions upon the legitimate instruction of Christians, officials in high position have answered that while provincial governors are constantly sending extracts from the Bible to prove the necessity of suppressing that book, Christians should be grateful for the privilege of being allowed to have the Bible, instead of complaining at being restricted

[page 366] QUESTION OF RESTRICTION.

in making or publishing comments upon it. Yet when there has been removed from the instruction of Christians all reference to the requirements of Christianity for practical benevolent living and to its abundance of assurances of the Divine aid in adversity and of the rewards of resignation, and to the proofs of its power which are found in the experiences of the Church universal in different parts of the world, much has been done to prevent Christians from knowing the worth or experiencing the effects of their own religion in their own hearts.”

It might be said that this whole question of restriction of worship, schools and the press, is looked at from the distinctively Turkish standpoint, and the claim made that the government legitimately sought to protect the Moslems from being infected with Christian ideas. The answer to this is found in the fact that the restrictions did not by any means apply merely to publications in the Arabic character, such as is used by all Moslems, but to publications which no Moslem ever could or would read, in the Armenian or Greek characters, or even in foreign languages. In the same line is the fact that attacks upon Christianity were freely allowed by the Turkish Government, while replies from Christians were distinctly forbidden. These Moslem attacks were full of the most scurrilous statements and contemptuous epithets, and were so maliciously false as to almost overshoot their mark, Still the authors of these works were decorated by the Sultan himself, and every effort was made to give to them the widest possible circulation. So, also, in the Turkish newspapers, attacks after attacks were made upon the Christian subjects of the Sultan, to which absolutely no reply was allowed. The paper closes with the following summary: —

[page 367] REVIEW OF THE CASE.

“ To review the case, we find an increasing stringency in Turkey directed against Christian education, an increasing tendency to hinder Christian worship, an increasing hostility to the use of books by the Christians of Turkey, which result in actually crippling the intellectual powers of men who would carry their culture along the lines of the best thought of Christendom. We find an increasing vigilance to prevent Christians from exercising the injunctions of their religion in practical benevolence and beneficence among their own people. And in these later years we find this tendency reaching a climax of intensity in the rough hands laid upon the exposition of the Christian faith in a way to prevent Christians from learning the full value of their religion and to prevent the Christian religion from producing its full fruit among its followers. In answer to inquiry as to the meaning of this rapid trend of different lines of policy converging to one point, we are told that the trouble is that Christianity tends to make men grow into a better manhood. This statement is made in various forms of paraphrase by officials of all grades from Bagdad to the Bosporus, and in answer to all objections, to the closing of schools, to the suppression of worship, to the restrictions put upon the use of books, to the elision of words and subjects from manuscripts in the press, and to the silencing of Christian ministers. To this declaration we make answer that the deliberate purpose of the founder of Christianity and of the religion which He taught is the purpose to take the debased and ignorant, and to make them men, self-controlled, honest and useful; that the purpose to elevate man is not a disloyal or seditious purpose; and that any far-reaching scheme to restrain Christianity from accomplishing its full fruit in purifying and quickening the lives of its followers, is war upon the Christian religion itself.”

 


Table of Contents | The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright Notice, etc.
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

Acknowledgements:

Source: Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities. Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

See also:

J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris, Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia
Helen Davenport Gibbons, The Red Rugs of Tarsus
Maj. General James G. Harbord Conditions in the Near East: Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia

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