Turks To Rebuild Mosques with Armenian Skulls -ld19210625

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The Literary Digest for June 25, 1921

"CHARITY MAY BIND UP WOUNDS and pour in the oil of consolation," but is it not time that the systematic destruction of Christian peoples in the Near East be made to cease? asks a special committee of the Near-East Relief Association, which stands appalled at the threat of the Turks to rebuild their mosques with Armenian skulls. "before it is too late," before this dire threat can be carried into execution, the Association is sending a warning to all members of Congress, to all churches and church assemblies, and to 110.000 individuals who have contributed to the work of the organization. Something more than charity is needed now. The danger of the complete annihilation of peoples subject to Turkish rule is said to be imminent, and only quick and concerted, we are told, can avert the tragedy.

A million Armenians have been slaughtered by the Turks, Professor Lepsius testified before the Berlin District Court which recently tried and acquitted the Armenian youth who assassinated Talaat Pasha, former Turkish Grand Vizier. "The Armenians were systematically led to slaughter as soon as the concentration-camps became overcrowded," the German professor is quoted as saying in the news dispatches. "They were led out upon the desert, where they were decimated in wholesale fashion. The object of the Turks was not to exile the Armenians but to slaughter them in cold blood, the scheme being to kill off a whole people." Thus the purpose of the Turkish Government is revealed in the land of its ally in the war.

For centuries the minority populations in the Turkish domain have been subjected to a deliberate process of extinction, we are reminded by the American relief workers. Out of 1,850,000 Armenians living in Turkish territory before the war there are said to be only 850,000 left. The rest were butchered to make a "Turkish holiday." America has done much to relieve the misery in the Near East, but "her task is not yet finished." For five years the work of life-saving has continued, and nearly 1,000,000 human beings, who otherwise would have perished, form a living memorial to American aid. In this benevolent work approximately $60,000,000 have been used by the Near-East Relief Association in the form of money, clothing, supplies, shelter, food, medicines, medical care, and supervision.

But it is practically useless to stanch the flow of blood while the Turks continue to slaughter their helpless victims, informed writers say. On January 3, 1920, Leland Rex Robinson, who had spent some time in Persia and the Caucasus as a member of a Near-East Relief Commission, wrote on The Survey (New York): "Until America - or England - accepts the mandate for Armenia (perhaps we should say the Caucasus rather than Armenia alone) there is little hope that order can rise out of pandemonium. . . . Unless the mandate is taken, relief work is three-fourths lost." In an official report for the American Government when the advisability of an American mandate for Armenia was under consideration, Maj.-Gen. James G. Harbord said: "Mutilation, violation, torture, and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages."

The Near-East Relief's manifesto, which is signed by a special committee consisting of James L.Barton, chairman of the Association, and Secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions; Stanley White, Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, and Walter George Smith, of Philadelphia, relates that "contrary to expectations, national conditions in the Near East remain so threatening that it has been impossible to return the hundreds of thousands of exiled refugees to their homes where they could become self-supporting, or to gather the vast number of dependent orphans into anything but temporary orphanages. On the contrary, renewed atrocities have created additional hordes of refugees and added to the number of dependent children faster than their needs can be met." The statement covers the entire present area of the American relief operations, in the country reaching from the Dardanelles to the Caspian Sea, and south across Asia Minor, Syria, And Mesopotamia eastward into Persia. Here political conditions are chaotic. Anatolia, Armenia, Kurdistan, and Asia Minor are under Mustafa Kemal Pasha, leader of the Turkish Nationalist party. Now that the French are withdrawing from Cilicia, where they had assembled large numbers of Armenians for protection -

"It is reported by absolutely trustworthy Americans that Turkish Nationalists have proclaimed that the mosques and minarets destroyed in their conflict with the French they will rebuild with the skulls of Armenians. Women and children declare that they would choose death, in whatever form it might come, to such a state of distress, of hopelessness, and of perpetual terror, and yet no way of escape opens before them. Among these distracted Christian peoples a state of panic prevails. Their safety seems to lie only in flight. There appears to be no protection for them in territory controlled by the Turkish Nationalists and the French protest their going into French protest their going French Syria. They can not immigrate to a foreign country, for the most of them are absolutely destitute, and no country will receive them as refugees. They seem condemned by circumstances beyond their control to certain death."

"As conditions now are it would seem that the giving of food and shelter alone will not suffice for future protection. What seems to be impending disaster to the unprotected Christian minorities under the control of the Nationalist Turks must be averted or the wards of our philanthropy and care may be destroyed under conditions of surpassing cruelty."

"If the contributions of past years are not to be wasted and our sacrificial work come to nothing, we must take the next step of appealing to our own and Allied governments to protect these threatened people. America is in a position to secure the protection required if it acts promptly and decisively. To achieve this she must act promptly and take the leadership in this matter. She alone can with absolute political disinterestedness."

It is suggested that we insist that "England, France, and Italy, who have incensed the Turk by depriving him of much of his choicest territory and created in him a spirit of revenge," shall demand that exiled and menaced peoples be restored to their homes and be protected there. To this end the 20.000.000 of people who contributed to the Near-East Relief "must follow their gifts by action and by personal expression of determination that something be done by our Government." So, continues the committee -

"In the name of that charity which knows no bounds of race or creed we urge every one who reads these lines to write at once to his Senator and member of Congress urging that early action be taken at Washington. No political emergency can serve as an excuse for inaction on the part of our own Government and the Allied governments. Each one should regard himself as an agent to get others also to write that Washington may know and feel the true heart of America."

"We do not assume to dictate to the President and to Congress what shall be their method of attaining the end in view. We are certain that the means are at their command to make it known to the Allied Powers that the people of the United States look to them to end the Turkish destruction of Christian peoples under their control, and we are equally sure of the goodwill and humanity of the high officers of our Government; but if they are assured that the public is back of them, their hands will be strengthened. What we ask is that they bring home to the European Powers a realizing sense of the fact that the American people are in earnest in their demands that these people shall be saved from utter destruction."

We must not stand by and let the Armenians die, insists The Congregationalist -

"The Allies have punished Germany with reparations, but the evil Turk seems likely to resume his chronic sport of Christian-baiting, with only a murmur of protest from the Western nations at whom he laughs in his sleeve. America sends missionaries, and builds orphanages for the children of those whom the dragon has slain, but America is helpless before the shrewd but unspeakable Turk. It is our shame that it is so. It is time we did something to meet our moral obligations to these weak ones who are the prey of race and religious hate. Let the Church speak and demand action from the Government at Washington. Let America speak with all the force that her prestige carries in the councils of the nations. And let the nations that claim privileges in the Near East be responsible for the safety of those who are in a peculiar and tragic sense civilization's wards."

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