A word of introductory of the following eloquent and informing appeal from the pen of Rev. Dr. W. Nesbit Chambers, may serve to help its entrance into the hearts and minds of our people. Dr. Chambers is a Canadian by birth and still a British subject, though he has served for years as a missionary of the American Board in the Turkish Empire, where, in the city of Adana, during the great massacre of 19019 he performed, with a courage paralleled by practical wisdom, the most heroic service for humanity. Dr. Chambers views this question as a student of history and with the mind and experience of a statesman. The writer of these lines during the month of May, 1911-just two years after the massacre, visited the city of Adana in Cilicia, for the purpose of studying the facts of that appalling tragedy. Unfortunately Dr. Chambers was absent at that time, but the writer stood on the exact spot in the squalid stone paved street where Dr. Chambers had held in his arms a young Armenian pastor when he was brutally murdered by a Turkish mob. His skull crushed by blows from the butt end of muskets, and his body slashed with knives, this young man fell a martyr to the cause of civilization. It is a marvel that Dr. Chambers was not murdered at the same time. Not only then, but on several other occasions during the massacre, he was in extreme peril of death. Several times Dr. Chambers was shot at by Turks with the intention of killing him. Fortunately the assassins failed of their purpose. It is surprising that Dr. Chambers’ body does not make a fourth added to the three graves of slain missionaries that the writer looked upon in the little yard of the American School for Armenian Girls at Adana. Rev. Dr. Chambers does not personally speak of such incidents, so it is well that another should tell them, in order to show what manner of man he is, and to give point to his unselfish appeal for that martyred nation to whose welfare he has devoted the best energies of his life. Shall we not ourselves give what we can afford to save the remnant of these Armenians who still survive the extremity of Turkish governmental malice? And shall we not, as citizens of the United States, demand that our representatives at Washington, both in the Executive and Legislative branch of the Government, speak some word in condemnation of the most sinister violation of human rights, that the page of history reveals either in ancient or modern times? Shall we not further ask that some appropriation out of the national treasury be made to save the surviving Armenians from impending death?
If the Government of Turkey has permitted American educators for a century to carry on their beneficient work, duly protected, within the limits of the Empire, has not that fact in itself constituted a moral obligation that no such monstrous calamity as the present one should have been launched against their enterprise and their beneficence from the hands of a Governmental Administrator? These questions, upon which our people should soberly reflect, would seem to form a necessary preface and introduction to the appeal of Rec. Dr. Chambers.
Ex. Sec. Armenian Relief Com.
The Heartrending Cry of the Armenians
In 1908 the new regime in Turkey proclaimed liberty, equality, fraternity and justice, so the world acclaimed the initial achievements of the young Turks. A paean of joy swept over the country. Christians were accorded privileges never enjoyed before-event to that of service in the army. Because of the massacres of 1909 fifty Moslems were hanged by sentence of the court martial and a half million dollars were expended by the Turkish government in the reconstruction of the devastated province and for the rehabilitation of the Christians. The Christians were enthusiastic and loyal.
The vision outlined, and the task set, proved to be beyond the comprehension of the new administration of Turkey, which was soon embarrassed by the action of the neighboring powers, notably Austria, Bulgaria and Italy. This state of things militated against the prestige of the young Turks who therefore became reactionary. War conditions made this reaction absolute and hopeless.
The Armenians entered heartily into the results of the revolution of 1908 and they looked for the establishment of great changes in the administration of the country and indulged impossible hopes. It was impossible for them to recede and conform to the reaction movement. That would mean the blighting of all their prospects. This situation accentuated racial antipathies, religious animosities and political suspicion. This latter evil was greatly increased by war conditions
Early in the year of 1915 the arms were taken from the Armenians in the army and they were employed as laborers. As a war measure orders were issued empowering local military commanders to deport, or to remove to other places, ay person or persons in any number that they might judge a menace to the safety of the district. This act put the Armenian community under the ban.
Deportation became general and in its execution men in large numbers were imprisoned, and in many places they were tortured. Many were massacred; younger women and girls and boys were abducted and sold, the masses of men, women and children of all classes and conditions and ages, with little or no preparation were forced away over the plains across the mountains to an unknown district to unfamiliar conditions amongst an unknown people-probably unfriendly-in northern Syria. In this process families were separated, children were abandoned, infants thrown into rivers. The sick and aged were left by the roadside to die, properties were confiscated and the community was left in dire destitution. There are now hundreds of women and children who do not know whether they are widows and orphans or not, mothers who long to be sure that their daughters are dead, and parents who would find comfort in the thought that they were childless.
The Armenian was a bright, progressive and prosperous race of whom 12 to 1500 thousand were inhabiting territory under Turkish rule stretching from the Grecian Archipelago on the west to Mount Ararat on the Persian border on the east, and from the Black Sea and Russian border on the north to the Mediterranean on the south, a stretch of territory 800 miles by 300 miles in extent.
The whole Armenian community is affected by this situation. More than three hundred thousand are refugees in the Caucasus in Russia, where an Armenian Commission is administrating relief funds. In Persia there are 60 to 70 thousand Armenians and Nestorian people destitute.
In Turkey it is difficult to give a definite of the numbers massacred, those abducted and the numbers banished, or the numbers that have been exempted from deportation. Suffice it to say that scores of thousands of Armenians are in dire destitution and are being swept on perilously near to destruction. There are many Christian Syrians also in distress. For example, the Committee in Tiflis, Russia, gives an estimate of $5.00 for each person, and calls for relief for at least 20,000 persons of Constantinople, Turkey, cables that the need is increasing and large contributions are called for to preserve the Armenians alive for the winter. Relief can be administered through United States consuls and missionaries; also other reliable channels.
The cry of a nation in agony. Will you not heed and answer?”