Young Turks' Misrule In Armenia -ld19130705

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July 5, 1913

"OUR SHIPS can not climb the mountains of Armenia", was the brutal remark of Lord Salisbury, then Prime Minister of England, on being appealed to for interposition by the Christian Armenians whose homes and farms were being desolated and drenched with the blood of massacre by Turks and Kurds. This was in 1896, under Abdul-Hamid, but the same atrocities and injustices, it is charged, have been perpetrated with many aggravations under the Young Turks. The revolutionary Government at Constantinople aims at centralization. All national separatism or distinction is to be obliterated. The Armenian language, into which the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures were translated in the early centuries of the faith, is to be abolished. CharleVellay gives in the Revue de Paris the following list of the grievances which form the crux of the Armenian question:

"In opposing by so many persecutions the development of the Armenian race, the present Ottoman Government refuses to Armenia the free use of her own language and traditional customs, thus denying them rights of which even Abdul-Hamid never ventured to dispute the reality and legitimacy. In his day the Armenian nation carried on its own administration, civil and religious. It possesed a national assembly, and the usual administrative departments. It disposed of an annual budget raised by special imposts. How could the Young Turks force the country to renounce her national tongue, her national customs, all the privileges and rights which the former regime had approved? Could the party at Constantinople fail to see that their policy of unification, of centralization, would inevitably become an instrument of oppression when operated in the Caucasian provinces?" The Armenians, 500,000 in number as against nearly 2,000,000 Mussulmans, were quick to realize this. They were now between the devil and the deep sea. The Kurds, rapacious and cruel bandits by profession, descendants of those Karduch whose fierceness and pitiless savagery were a scourge to Xenophonin the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, are on the side to murder and plunder, and the Turk, on the other, driving the churchmen of Gregory the Illuminator and of the modern Protestant evangelists to be cut down by hundreds and their farms taken possession of by the Kurdish brigands. The writer we are quoting declares that Turkey actually aims at the extermination of the Armenians:

"Thus by a singular paradox the Ottoman Constitutional Government was very soon regarded by the Armenians as embodying the most brutal despotism. Miscarriages of justice became as frequent as ever. Nothing was changed in the violent or underhand methods of the central power. While the Turks massacred the Armenian's, the Kurds seized on the lands which the fleeing possessors had left as they crossed the frontier. When the original proprietors returned to reoccupy their possessions and recover their goods and protested against these usurpations, the Turkish Council of State decided against them. As the Armenian population is above all things a peasant population, all these persecutions threaten their very existence. For Mussulman immigrants are brought in by the Turks from Caucasus or Turkestan and installed upon the stolen farms. These farms are confiscated on a thousand pretexts; sometime signed by an illegal plea of exchange or of imperfect title, sometimes by forged deeds, false witness, sometimes because of imposts that have allegedly left unpaid, or standing indebtedness. Only recently the Armenian archbishop of Constantinople submitted to the Grand Vizier his reports of the farms or fields, 7,000 in number, which have been taken from the Armenians by the Turks." The European Powers are then scored for their indifference or incapacity in checking these outrages. The Balkan War, by which Turkey was finally driven out of Europe, calls attention to Armenia's plight. The whole press of Europe is asking if the Powers will interfere. To quote further:

"The deliberate extermination of the Armenian race is going on by these varied methods-massacre, murders, forced emigration, as much to-day as ever before. The Armenian Question now lies before Europe, and since the Ottoman Empire shows itself incapable of solving it, needs must be that a solution comes from the outside." Mr. Vellay says Russia, England, and Germany are debarred by self-interest from intervening. When England speaks of Armenian autonomy she is silenced by Russia, who does not wish for a second Bulgaria on her Asiatic frontier. England and Germany wish Armenia to remain a Turkish buffer state to prevent Russia's expansion to the south. As this writer declares:

"In all this diplomatic discussions the interest and safety of the Armenians themselves unfortunately counts for next to nothing. The outlook of the Powers does not extend beyond their own economic or political interests." An Armenian paper published in Constantinople, the Avedaper, recently contained a review of the situation by an Armenian clergyman, the Rev. A. B. Shumavonian, in which he complains of the "much cry and little wool" of the Armenian press agitation. "We have been deceived quite long enough," he exclaims indignantly. "The Times, the Temps, the Noveye Vremya, and the Berliner Tageblatt, have nothing new to say, more especially as our wounds is not of those that are healed of ink." He concludes with a warning to Turkey, who may find Russia making Armenia a stepping-stone to the absorption of part of Islam's Asiatic possessions. Russia already has "a sphere of influence" in northern Persia. What if she should strengthen her position there and make stronger her line of communication by absorbing the Turkish Vilayets south of the Caucasus Mountains? To quote further this patriotic and well-informed Armenia:

"Not a single Government wishes or is able to defend the integrity of Turkey if the Turkish nation does not hasten to strengthen its position by internal reforms. . . . . . . "Turkey lost Cyprus without insuring any real and permanent gain. Perhaps the Russian Cossacks may succeed in climbing those mountains where English ships cold not ascend, and then if Turkey asks help from the west, Sir Edward Grey may be tempted to repeat Lord Salisbury's clever remark and say, "OUR SHIPS can not ascend the mountains of Armenia." ---Translation made for The Literary Digest.

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