Armenia's Cry For Justice -ld19200221

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The Literary Digest

February 21, 1920

ARMENIA'S TRAGEDY IS TWOFOLD. She was "a victim of the war; now she is a victim of the peace. She was persecuted by her enemies; now she is almost deserted by her friends." This epigrammatic statement of Armenia's plight is found in one of the last pleas of a distinguished Armenian, the late Aram Raffi, secretary of the Armenian Bureau in London, and the burden of its plaint is heard from all natives of Armenia and their sympathizers. At the outbreak of the world-war, it is recalled, the Armenians cast their lot in with the Allies, formed volunteer forces, and led the Russian army into Armenia. After the fall of the Russian Government and the revolution, when the Bolshevski came into power, the Russian troops evacuated all the conquered parts of Armenia, and in The Asiatic Review (London) Mr. Raffi wrote:

"For a long time the Armenians defended the front and checked the advance of the Turks. In Turkish Armenia a most horrible massacre took place; the whole Armenian population was deported into the interior of Arabia; a great number of the deportees were done to death during the journey. Thus, out of two millions of Armenians in Turkish Armenia, nearly half were wiped out. Now the Turks were trying to invade the Caucasus, where two millions of Armenians are living. After this, Bolsheviki came into power, the Caucasus - Armenians, Georgians, and Tatars - formed themselves into independent republics. The capital of the Armenian Republic is Erivan."

"The Russian Armenians concentrated themselves in their territory, and single-handed, checked the advance of the Turks in the Caucasus, thus facilitating the march of General Allenby to Mesopotamia and Palestine by making it necessary to divert many Turkish troops to the Caucasus."

"In the armistice concluded with Turkey (November 2, 1918) the following stipulation concerning Armenia was made:

"In case of disorder in the six Armenian vilayets, the Allies reserve to themselves the right to occupy any part of them."

Now what has been Armenia's recompense? Since the armistice date just quoted, Mr. Raffi relates, great disorder, murder, and pillage have prevailed in the six vilayets mentioned, but these regions have never been occupied by the Allies and the Armenian question is not yet settled. The peace delegates are "waiting until America makes up its mind whether she will accept the mandate for Armenia," and meanwhile Armenian blood is being freely shed. That the Armenian people desire greatly to have America accept, a mandate for Armenia is obvious in the utterances of various Armenian publicists. To the rooted American objection to the mere suggestion of foreign entanglement and petitioners on behalf of Armenia argue how limited in time and responsibility such a mandate would actually be. In any case, some mandatory must be appointed for Armenia, it is declared, if the rule of right according to which the Allies waged war is still to be kept. In The New Armenia (New York), Prof. Lawson P. Chambers, of Constantinople College, writes:

"The question of a mandate for Armenia is an economic rather than a military problem. A large military expedition would be necessary to assure order. The prestige of Entente arms is sufficiently high to assure compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Allied Council on the part of Turks and Kurds, provided the decision is resolute and unambiguous. For the Turks love to fish in troubled waters, but readily submit to the accomplished fact. A just and resolute administration , with the prestige of a big Power at its back, and with a comparatively small expeditionary force at its command, would suffice to overawe the disturbing elements in the new Armenia; while the peoples of the land would furnish the men for the necessary police and defense forces. The very decision of one of the Great Powers to assume the mandate for Armenia would have a magical effect in calming the situation; while the arrival of the mandatory staff, with financial and material aid to the sore-priest people, would give them the respite they so richly deserve from the twin dangers of epidemic and massacre. The untapped resources of the land, together with the frugality and industry of the people, would soon fully repay any outlay that would have to be made to set the country on its feet."

To any project for even a temporary united administration for Armenia and Turkey Professor Chambers is rigidly opposed, and he declares that the two inevitable conditions for the settlement of the Armenian question are: First, "the unequivocal assurance of complete independence for Armenia," and secondly, "the immediate assumption by some strong, disinterested Power of the mandate for Armenia." A provisional united administration for Armenia and Turkey would only -

"work prejudice to the cause of Armenian independence in that it would make difficult the task of separating the administration of Armenia when the time should come for such separation and would necessitate the creation de novo of administrative machinery for Armenia. Furthermore, if the mandate over Turkey were to be withdrawn before a separate administration for Armenia had been achieved, such a separation would never be achieved. Now is the time, when reformed administrative machinery for Turkey has to be set up, to separate the administration of Armenia from that of Turkey, and to give the Armenians a chance to develop their own governmental machinery under the guidance and with the support of a mandatory Power. … The Armenians may now be a minority in the land they claim as their own; but their sons and daughters, scattered far and wide, will flock in large numbers to the land endeared by the blood of their own relatives and friends. Only, ere they return, they want to be assured that Armenia is to be free."

A distinguished British supporter of complete independence for the Armenian nation is Viscount James Bryce, who assures one of his Armenian correspondents in America that "so far at any rate as England is concerned" the British Government "repeatedly declared that it considers all Turkish rule ought to cease in Armenia, Silicia, Syria, and the Arabian countries." The atrocious misgovernment of the Turks, Viscount Bryce says in his letter, published in The New Armenia, "makes it impossible to permit them ever again to attempt to govern these regions." Of the Republic of Armenia, which is distinct from Turko-Armenia and has been recognized by the Allied Powers, Viscount Bryce observes:

"Respecting the Armenian Republic at Erivan. … I think it ought also to receive assistance from the Allies, and if possible, from the United States also, to enable its valiant troops to maintain themselves against the dangers which threaten them on the west and from the Tatars, who are being stirred up by the Turks on the east. This little republic is hard presst by these powerful and ferocious enemies and needs all the support the Allies can give it. But that does not settle the question as regards what was Turkish Armenia, which is not included in the Erivan Republic and the arrangement to be made for that much larger country still remains unsettled. ……"

"I do not think that there is any opposition whatever between the interests of England in India and the welfare of Armenia, but, on the contrary, it would be a great advantage for the security of India that the Turkish power should be entirely expelled from the countries between the Caspian, the Black Sea, and Syria, and that those countries should be restored to prosperity by the reestablishment of an Armenian state, with the help and guidance of a civilized Western Power. The real enemy of civilization, as well as of England, is Turkey , who has shown such complete incompetence ever to be trusted with power over Christians again. This set of facts indicates the policy which the Armenians in the United States ought to pursue."

"They ought to continue to insist that Turkish rule over Christians must entirely cease, and that the Armenian people should be given a chance of recovering their national existence as a state and of restoring prosperity to the districts which they inhabit. The friends of Armenia in England continue to hope that the United States will bear a leading part in this good work to be done in the interests of humanity and liberty. I am glad to know that so many of the best and wisest men in America have given their sympathy to the Armenian cause, and I have no doubt you will have their advice. You owe a great deal, also, to the American missionaries, and to those large-minded philanthropists who have helped the missionaries by sending out the Relief Commission, which has done so much to save the Eastern Christians from being destroyed by famines, as well as by slaughter."

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