The Light That May Go Out In Turkey -nyt19151028

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What the Armenians Have Done to Sustain Christianity and Western Civilization in the Household of the Prophet


Armenian Editor and Publicist

OCTOBER 28, 1915

To the Editor of The New York Times: Zia Mufta-Zade, the eminent apologist of the Turkish atrocities, in his rambling extenuation and justification of the criminal conduct of the Ottoman Government, asks: "What is Armenia?"

He thinks that as Armenia is divided between three powers--Russia Persia, and Turkey--she no longer exists. But Poland also is divided between three powers. Do we ask: "Where is Poland's?"

The provinces of Aleppo, Adana, Trebizonde, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Mamouret-ul-Aziz, and Sivas, inhabited in Turkey. The Turkish Government itself acknowledged officially the existence of Armenian during the Russo-Turkish war. When the Turkish armies were destroyed the Sultan and his advisers realized that the victor, Russia, might demand the annexation of the provinces of Erzeroum, Diarbekir, and Sivas. Therefore, they urged the Armenians to demand for the provinces inhabited by them political autonomy under Ottoman suzerainty. The arrival of the British squadron before Constantinople, however, encouraged Turkey to change her mind, and in the course of the peace negotiations at San Stefano she refused to accept the text proposed by the Russian plenipotentiaries in behalf of the Armenian administrative autonomy" of Article XVI, of the treaty of San Stefano was replaced by that of "reforms and ameliorations" which Russia would guarantee by occupying Turkish territory. At the Congress of Berlin, through the efforts of Great Britain, the clause concerning Russian occupation was eliminated and thus Article LXI. of the treaty of Berlin was substituted for Article XVI. to the treaty of San Stefano and in Article LXI. of the treaty of Berlin are an irrefutable acknowledgment of the existence of Armenia in the Turkish Empire.

Moreover, the existence of a nation is indicated not alone by its political independence, but by its civilizing activities. The whole population of the Turkish Empire is estimated at 32,000,000, of whom only 1,100,000 are Armenians. Yet the Armenians have 783 educational institutions, with more than 82,000 students, whereas the Turks can scarcely boast of 150 schools, with only 17,000 students.

To give an idea of the economic power of the Armenians in the Turkish Empire. Marcel Leart records the fact that of 166 importers in Ivas, which has the smallest Armenian population of the six Armenian Provinces, 141 are Armenians, 13 Turks and 12 Greeks.

Of 150 exporters, 127 are Armenians and 23 Turks.

Of 37 bankers and capitalists, 32 are Armenians and only 5 Turks.

Of 9,800 shopkeepers and artisans 6,800 are Armenians and only 2,550 Turks, the rest being divided among various other nationalities.

The same is true of native industry. Of 153 factories and flour mills, 130 belongs to Armenians, 20 to Turks, and 3, carpet concerns, to foreign or mixed companies. The personnel of all these establishment is Armenian exclusively. The number of employees is about 17,000 of whom 14,000 are Armenians , 3,500 Turks, and 200 Greeks and others.

The Turks belong to the Turanian race of Central Asia. With their appearance in Syria, Mesopotamoa, Byzantium, Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, and Greece civilization invariably vanished. Victor Hugo has admirably described this blighting influence of the Turks in the following lines: "Les Turcs ont passé a tout est ruine et deuil." (The Turks have traversed there, all is ruin and mourning.) The Turk has no bond, no consanguinity with the Arab, and hence no claim upon his civilization. he is heartily despaired by the Arab, who signs:

Three things naught but evil work-- The locust the vermin, and the Turk.

Surrounded on all sides by the destructive Turkish hordes, the Armenians have been the representatives of western civilization, first by their Christianity, and then by their culture. While the Turks furnish the criminals in the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians furnish physicians, the artisans, and the savants. It was an Armenian architect, Sinan, who designed and built the famous Mosque of Adrianople and the Mosque of Suleyman in Constantinople and Armenian architects, the Balians constructed the palaces of Cheragan, of Beyler-bey, and of Dolma Bahche, "which might be taken," writes Theophile Gautier, "for a Venetian palace only richer, vaster and more highly ornamented -- transported from the Grand Canal to the banks of the Bospurus."

Even the introduction of Turkish printing and the drama was accomplished by the Armenians, and it was two distinguished Armenians. Odian and Servicen, who collaborated with Midhad Pasha in framing the Turkish Constitution, The Turks would not have a grammar of their own language if it were not for the Armenian philologist Sheriff Pasha, the distinguished Turkish exile in Paris, must be congratulate for his sincerity when he declares, as reported in the columns of THE TIMES of Oct. 10, that:

"If there is a race which has been closely connected with the Turks by its fidelity, by its services to the country, by the statesman and functionaries of talent it has furnished by the intelligence which it has manifested in all domains--commerce, industry, science and the arts--it is certainly the Armenians."

Besides, Armenia in Turkey is the sustainer of the Turks. Attest the Subjoined paragraphs from a letter which a Turk has sent to his son in this country:

"I am returning the check you sent, for we cannot cash it there being no royal here any more * * *. Times are bad, my son, the rajah was everything for us. * * * I tell you when Winter comes we ourselves will have to starve for, as you know, we all live on the rajahs crops."

In view of these facts, might not one ask of Zia Mufty. "Where is Turkey?"

ARSHAG MAHDESIAN New York, Oct. 19 1915.

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