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Rendel J. Harris and Helen B. Harris

LETTERS FROM ARMENIA


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LETTER No. XXXII.

I.

INTENDED VISIT TO EGHIN — FURTHER REPORT OF THE MASSACRE THERE — TWO LETTERS PROM PROTESTANT ARMENIANS IN NEIGHBOURING TOWNS.

HARPOOT, Sept. 29.

As we are hoping to start for Eghin to-morrow, I have no time to write a circular letter, but enclose this week’s “ News Notes” (respecting the Eghin massacre), the same that goes to all the stations of the American Missionary Board here (for each station issues such notes weekly or fortnightly).

I also enclose two letters from A. I think the one from the pastor most touching.

I did not write last week because we were in the midst of a panic, not knowing what an hour might bring forth; we do not know even yet that the Vali will allow us to leave, for of course it is hateful to the Turks to have us go to see, and seek to alleviate, the misery they have caused, and the Vali is sure to make every possible objection; but the news from Arabkir is so pitiful that we are going to try and get there for next Sunday, three days’ hard ride over one of the worst, if not the worst, of mountain roads in Turkey! If we go I shall probably not return here, but go on to Sivas; that is, if I can get escort.

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I am getting better from the fever, though rather weak yet; but I shall gain strength on the saddle and in work, I know.

P.S. — 9 P.M. I am within the last hour in receipt of a very kind and interesting letter, which speaks of three sums of money sent me by your committee, and so far I have not heard of either of them having arrived at Constantinople ! (£300, £4.00, and £500). How grateful I am to Friends for these large sums I cannot tell! I shall probably use a great deal in Eghin, and do it with such a thankful heart; but even now I must not speak too confidently of going to Eghin, for, remembering Van, I tremble yet. If we go I shall not attempt writing from thence, but wait till I reach Sivas, a place of comparative safety.

H. B. H.

10 P.M. — Dr. Gates has just been up to say that £300 has reached Mr. Whittall. Again many thanks. I shall draw it at once.

II.

Further Report on the Eghin Massacre.

HARPOOT, Sept. 29, 1896.

The news which I gave last week concerning Eghin was derived chiefly from two candid Turks who were there at the time of the massacre — they left before there was a definite knowledge of the extent of the disaster. I do not know of any persons who have come from Eghin since that time, but letters received by to-day’s mail more than confirm the first reports, and agree in fixing the estimate of about 2000 as the number of the killed. More women and children in proportion seem to have suffered this fate than in any previous

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massacre of which I know. Many of the dead were left in the streets for days as food for dogs, and large numbers were thrown into the Euphrates. They have been seen floating down the river forty or fifty miles below the city. In some cases whole families have been obliterated. Two thousand is a large proportion in an estimated population of between 5000 and 6000 Christians.

The letters give the number of houses as 1100, and of these it is said that only about 150 are left. The carnage of blood and fire lasted from Tuesday the 15th to Thursday the 17th September.

All the testimony concurs in showing that the massacre was official, and that it was wholly without reason. There was no disturbing element, except in the imaginations of a few officials. They had alarmed the central government. The Vali and the military commander were in the telegraph office here most of the time from the beginning to the end, communicating with Eghin and Constantinople. As far as I can learn, the people made no resistance whatever, and no Turks were killed, except possibly later, in the division of the spoils. There were no Kurds in the place. The work was done by citizens and soldiers. The massacre extended to several of the Eghin villages, but we have no details.

The local government is constant in its assurance that no further massacres will take place in this region, and a good deal of energy is shown in restraining the turbulent element. Five people were killed in the Aghun villages, one of them a priest; but the timely arrival of soldiers prevented a general massacre. After all that has happened, it is not surprising that the Christians have no sense of security, and that they are unnerved by fear. The destitution of the coming winter threatens to be almost as great as last year.

We were extremely glad to welcome Mr. Browne from Boston. His coming gives us much cheer and courage. He hopes soon to visit Eghin with some other members of our circle.
The schools have opened prosperously with nearly seven hundred pupils. They are mostly in rented premises.

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III.

Translation of Letter from Protestant Preacher at _____ ,

Sept. 20, 1896.

MODESTLY-SHINING LADY, MISS BUSH, — Your Sept. 12th letter I received, and became aware of its contents. I cannot write as before, because my mind has become completely weakened, and is not able to work.

My spirit, this troubled spirit of mine, I have wholly given and committed to the Lord. As yet the expected peace I have not. Pray that the Lord will cause to cease the perplexity and trouble of my heart, and grant to the whole world, peace. What shall I say of the disturbers of our peace ? The Lord grant them grace. The Lord give to our illustrious Sultan more wisdom, that he may skilfully find means to return peace to this land.

Finally, we have the condition expressed in 2 Cor. i. 8. Encouragement and discouragement combined have melted and wasted us. One encourages us and says, “ Do not fear, there is nothing.” Another, from another direction, brings gloomy news to cast us down. The Lord grant to our uneasy hearts, peace ; and to our country, quiet.

I am sorry to say that, through fear, many have become ill and have forgotten hunger. The local government encourages us, but no heart has remained in us. Whatever may be, the Lord lead. — Yours in Christ,

K_____.

IV.

Extract from a Letter from an influential Armenian Protestant at _____.

“ You write it as the opinion of Dr. Gates and some of the brethren that at present no one will die of hunger. This is a mistake for this town. The widows and orphans here are many of them without work, and therefore wholly uncared for. If you were here you would see with your own eyes a crowd of orphans who wander

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through the streets to beg. But who gives ? Who has anything to give ? What is this, and evils like this, which come as the result of hunger ? It is not necessary to mention other contemporaneous evils which spring from hunger and poverty. I wonder if these are less painful than death, though that, also, is threatened. _____ has need of bread as long as the people have not commenced work.

“Upon all this, the days of fear have commenced again. Our G_____ M_____ brother, when coming from a village, was wounded with a dagger, and the poor man is now in bed. Things threatened like this are not lacking. The Lord have mercy !”

 


Table of contents
The cover and pages 1-4 | Preface | Table of contents (as in the book)
Turkish Armenia with Route of J.R. & H.B. Harris (a map)
Letter I | Letter II | Letter III | Letter IV | Letter V | Letter VI | Letter VII | Letter VIII
Letter IX | Letter X | Letter XI | Letter XII | Letter XIII | Letter XIV | Letter XV
Letter XVI | Letter XVII | Letter XVIII | Letter XIX | Letter XX | Letter XXI | Letter XXII
Letter XXIII | Letter XXIV | Letter XXV | Letter XXVI | Letter XXVII | Letter XXVIII
Memorandum: Notes of Information from J. R. H. | Letter XXIX | Letter XXX
Letter XXXI | Letter XXXII | Letter XXXIII | Letter XXXIV | Letter XXXV
Letter XXXVI | Letter XXXVII

Acknowledgements:

Source: J. Rendel Harris & B. Helen Harris. Letters from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia. London, James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1897
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan

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