The Plight Of Armenia
CIVILIZED PEOPLE LIVE IN TERROR
From The Spectator, 26th July 1913
To The Editor Of “The Spectator”:
Sir,— While attention is riveted on the miserable war that is going on between the Balkan States may I be allowed to put in Armenia’s claim to practical help?
The Armenians are the only Christians left in the power of Turkey, and their plight is indeed a deplorable one. From letters recently published in the Daily News and Leader, and also from private information, the state of Armenia appears to be nearly as bad as it has been during any period of the sad history of the country, which is saying a great deal.
Does it not appeal to the conscience of Europe that a civilized people should be living in terror of their lives, that labourers cannot go to work in the fields for fear of assassination, and that quiet citizens should be murdered in their beds?
Many instances have occurred lately in various parts of Armenia, and the news has been reported by the Bishops, of the killing of priests, of the mutilating of peasants by cutting off their limbs, of stealing whole flocks of sheep by the Kurds, of the killing of travellers by Turkish soldiers, and of every kind of persecution imaginable. I can give names and dates of the above occurrences.
The policy of the Turks appears to be to try to make life unendurable for the Armenians and so force them to give up their possessions and leave their country. Every week parties of strong young men emigrate to Russia or leave for the United States. They can bear such an existence no longer.
Over and over again has Turkey promised to institute reforms in Armenia, and the responsibility for their failure rests especially on England. The 61st Article of the Treaty of Berlin, drafted by the British plenipotentiaries, reads as follows:
“The Sublime Porte undertakes to carry out without further delay the ameliorations and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and Kurds. It will periodically make known the steps taken to this effect to the Powers, who will superintend their application.”
After this, by the “Cyprus Convention”, England declared that she would protect and reform Turkey in Asia in conjunction with the Sultan, the price for this compact being the island of Cyprus, which England obtained on that occasion. When will England see to it that the reforms above referred to are carried out?
Ought we not to be thankful for the blessings of peaceful homes and a safe Government; and if our Christianity is worth anything shall we not see to it that such blessings are extended to the Armenians?
It is because the latter are naturally so peace- loving and law-abiding, and also because their powers of endurance are so great, that they have borne quietly long centuries of persecution.
The brain-work of the country is done by Armenians. No Turk understands working the telegraph or electric light or engineering, yet the officials are all Turks, and no Armenian can obtain redress for any wrong that may be done him.
There will be no peace in Armenia till a European governor is appointed (no matter what his nationality), who shall be nominated by the Sultan and responsible to the European Powers. Then, and then only, will Armenians be able to go about their daily business and possess their homes in safety. They do not ask for or want autonomy. They simply plead for justice and good government, which are the birthright of the meanest and poorest of King George’s subjects.
I am, Sir, &c., Emily Robinson