American Appeal To America For Help -sm19151016

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OCTOBER 16, 1915

INHUMANITY AND RUTHLESSNESS, not of enemy invaders but of government officials, have spurred the latest appeal for American relief funds. This plea comes from the American Committee on Armenian Atrocities, consisting of Samuel T. Dutton, Cleveland H. Dodge, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Frederick Lynch, Norman Hapgood, James L. Barton, Bishop David H. Greer, Oscar S. Strauss and others representing American interests and Sympathies in The Turkish Empire. James L. Barton, secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions, is president and Charles R. Crane is treasurer. Samuel Dutton of the American Peace Society is secretary, with headquarters at 70 Fifth avenue, New York City.

When the first reports of the massacre and exile of Armenians on Turkey reach United States, this committee organized and made careful study of the evidence bearing on Armenian persecution which was sent by missionaries, refugees and non-partisans to American friends and the State Department at Washington. The result is a report just released by the committee, a veritable blue book of atrocities. It is a record of a peaceful people driven under the whip like beasts from their homes into exile among populations of different race, religion and language; of men bound and shot; of tortured prisoners; of women outraged, children drowned, and old men beaten to death; of starvation and suffering, loot and massacre.

The documents analyzed by the committee have since been substantiated by missionaries returning from Turkey, who have themselves witnessed the brutal extermination of the Armenian race. Among these missionaries the latest arrival is Ernest Yarrow, who was located at the Congregational mission at Van.

Dr. Yarrow describes the Armenian massacres as an "organized, systematic attempt to wipe out the Armenians." The pretext, he says, is disloyalty of the Armenians toward the Turkish government, but the real cause is jealousy and religious differences. As for disloyalty, he declares that many Armenians willingly served in the Turkish armies, but that the treatment they have always received from the Turkish government tends to destroy their allegiance.

Dr. Yarrow describes the attack of the Armenians at Van as regular trench warfare. The first actual bloodshed he witnessed from the mission window. Some Armenian women were crossing a field and Turkish soldiers brutally laid hold of them. When some of their men folk in trying to prevent insult were killed the signal for the hostilities began.

Thereafter cannon were trained on the Armenian quarter, while the Armenians on their side fortified their houses and dug trenches about them. Meanwhile 100,000 to 150,000 refugees from neighboring villages fled to Van before the Turks. Many of these were former orphans housed at the mission. Among them were little children treated at the mission hospital for dagger slashes in the abdomen. Others came stripped of clothing, one women in particular who had wandered in the mountains for ten days without a shred of clothing and who finally died of exposure. All testified that the Turks battered down village after village with their cannon, killing all Armenian inhabitants they could find.

This siege of the Armenians at Van lasted twenty-eight days according to Dr. Yarrow. Then came rumors of the Russian advance, and the Turks fled, leaving some thousand Turkish women and children as well as the Armenians. Dr. Yarrow cities as a proof of Armenian humanity the fact that these Turkish non-combatants were sent to the Armenian mission unharmed by the Armenians and allowed to remain there during the Russian occupation of the city. A scourge of diseases--typhus, typhoid, dysentery, ect.--resulting from fifth and congestion affected them, and five of the missionaries contracted typhoid from tending the sick.

Finally, at the end of July, the Russian army was ordered to retreat and, fearing the return of the Turks, some 250,000 Armenians and the Van missionaries in care of the Russian Red Cross followed in the wake of the army across the Russian border. There, says Dr. Yarrow, they are safe from Turkish oppression, but are destitute of food and clothing. He hopes that some of the relief funds collected in this country may be used to aid these Armenian refugees in Russia.

The bulk of the money contributed to the American Committee on Armenian Atrocities will be used, however, for the Armenians on Turkish territory. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau has sent word from Constantinople that conditions are appalling and more than $500,000 could be distributed advantageously through missionaries at Konitsa, Adana, Tarsus and Urfa and through the American consul at Aleppo. Already the committee has cabled $106,000 succor--$100,00 to Ambassador Morgenthau and $6,000 to Stephen Van R. Trowbridge, a missionary in Cairo, Egypt, for Armenians stranded there. The Rockefeller Foundation has given $30,000 to the fund and the Committee of Mercy, organized for the relief of non-combatants in war, has contributed more than $1,500 and is co-operating with the Committee on Armenian Atrocities in a wide appeal for a generous total.

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922