Turkish Official Denies Atrocities -nyt19151015

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Consul General here calls Report of Outrages on Armenians a Fabrication
Djelal Bey a Revolution Was Plotted in Van and Suspects had to be Removed

OCTOBER 15, 1915

Djelal Munif Bey, the Turkish Consul General in New York, in an official statement to THE TIMES yesterday declared the report made public a week ago last Sunday by the American Committee on Armenian Atrocities, which asserted that not in the one thousand years just ended had a people suffered such terrible outrages as are those the Turks are perpetrating upon the Armenians to be a fabrication. The report described the atrocities as being officially sanctioned from Constantinople, and it was stated that the situation was one involving an attempt to wipe out an entire race.

Among the men who signed the report were Bishop David H. Greer, Cleveland H. Dodge, and Oscar S. Straus. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the Rev. Dr. James L. Barton, William Sloan, Professor Samuel P. Dutton, Charles R. Crane, and Arthur Curtis James. Cardinal Gibbons has, since the report was issued, accepted membership on the committee.

The committee, in a foreword to the report, stated that it voucher for its truthfulness and added that "the movement against the Armenians forms part of a concerted movement against all non-Turkish and missionary and progressive elements, including the Zionists."

THE TIMES yesterday asked Djelal Bey, as the highest Turkish official in New York, if he, as the representative of the ottoman Government, had any reply to make to the charges made by the Armenian Atrocities Committee.

He then dictated the following statement:

"The daily newspapers have lately been publishing extensive reports of wholesale massacres of Armenians in Turkey, some of them going as far as to state that 800,000 Armenians had been slaughtered in every conceivable and imaginable way.

"THE NEW YORK TIMES, in its issue of Oct. 4, published a report issued by the self-styled 'Committee on Armenian Atrocities, and which was undersigned by a few names, some of them prominent American. This report contained accusations of wholesale murder of woman and children by Turks, basing it assertions on information furnished by some newly arrived missionaries from Turkey, and other reports supposedly received from various sources in Turkey, but whose authors are not disclosed; in other words, reports that are not or could not be substantiate, even though corroborated by Lord Bryce, of atrocity reports fame.

"These wholesale accusations against the Turkish Government and nation were given out to the press without slightest effort being made toward ascertaining the extent of truth there is in them.

"Now what happened is this: When war broke out last year, even before Turkey had joined in on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Armenians in Turkey, who dreamed of an independent Armenian, were convinced as were many others, that Germany and her ally would be swept off the map of Europe in six week's time; as a result of this Turkey would be divided among the Allies of the Triple Entente, and an independent Armenia created on what had formerly been Turkish provinces. The Armenians already looked upon this as a foregone conclusion and gave free vent to their feelings.

A secret visit was paid by one of the Buxton brothers, President of the Balkan committees in London to the leaders of the Armenian revolutionary committees in Van, principal town of the Turkish province of that name. He had come down through Tiflis, Caucasus, where he had held conferences with the Armenian committees of Russia and discussed plans for a concerted action with those of Turkey against the Turkish Government. These revolutionary committees then became active, and armed by the Russians, helped the latter to capture Van, which is not very far from the Russian frontier.

"Immediately after, under the auspices of the Russians, an autonomous Armenian Government was established in Van and a man called 'Aram' assumed its Governorship--New York papers published some time ago an appeal sent to America for financial help under the signature of this rebel (who signed himself 'Governor of Van') and that of the Armenian Bishop of Van.

"To put it briefly, the Armenians of that section of the empire had risen with arms in hand against Turkish authority, in favor of Turkey's most bitter foe, Russia, and therefore, could not be regarded otherwise than rebels. Of course, at such a time, when it is a matter of life and death to the Turkish Empire, it cannot in good faith be expected of the Turkish troops, after the recapture of Van by them and the ejection of the Russians, that they treat these revolutionists with gloved hands, especially when they offered armed resistance. All those, who have been killed were of that rebellious element who were caught red-handed or while otherwise committing traitorous acts against the Turkish Government, and not women and children, as some of these fabricated reports would have the Americans believe.

"Furthermore, in order to prevent the leaking of valuable military information into enemy channels, the Turkish Government deemed it imperative to remove into the interior of the country those suspected elements which jeopardized the safety of the whole Empire.

"There may have been cases where inoffensive people shared the fate of the offender, and I am not among the last to deplore such unfortunate occurrences. Unfortunately, in times of war such a discrimination is utterly impossible, and it is not alone the offender who suffers the penalty of his act, but also the innocent whom he drags with him.

"However much to be deplored may be these harrowing events in the last analysis, we can but say that the Armenians have only themselves to blame.

"I do not think this moment an opportune one to discuss the underlying motives of the missionary societies which are now showing themselves so bitterly anti-Turkish and are advertising through the New York dailies a mass meeting for next Sunday to denounce the Turkish Government and people. Apparently, these same societies, whose headquarters are at 70 Fifth Avenue, are also the originators of the above mentioned report which was published in THE NEW YORK TIMES of Oct. 4. But their motives are known to us and may come to light in a not far distant future."

The Consul General was asked to amplify the last part of his statement, in which he made the assertion that the motives of the men who "originated" the Armenian Atrocities Report were known to the Turks and "may come to light in a not far distant future."

"For the present I do not care to say anything further on that point," he replied.

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