It seems almost too good to be true to think that we are going to get in touch once more with the outside world, and may be it is. But, anyway, the Governor says he will send a messenger over to Tabriz to-morrow to carry letters and perhaps he will get through safely.

I have no idea what has leaked through to civilisation since we fell out of the world, but I will give you as much of an account of the last four months and a half as the brief time allowed before the messenger goes will permit.

On New Year's Day we had our usual day of receiving callers in the city; all our Syrian and some Moslem friends called and things seemed fairly safe, though we knew we might be on the edge of war, as there was an army of Turks and Kurds within a day's march of us. They were said to be coming on to fight the Russians, who with a little force of two thousand, perhaps, were strongly entrenched here.

The next morning the Russians rose and left in haste, and many of our Syrian men and others who were known to be their supporters here left with them. Our teaching force here at the College, our newspaper and printing press work, and even our city church work was terribly crippled by the exodus, as it took away some of our best workers.

The Russians' departure was the herald for the Kurds to pounce upon the prey they had so long been held at bay from, and, even before they arrived, the Moslem neighbours in all the surrounding villages flew upon the spoil, killing Syrians, running off with their cattle and household goods and even stripping those who were trying to run away from them of their money, bundles and any clothes they took a fancy to. They also carried off women and tried to force Christians to become Moslems, keeping them safely if they would deny their faith or repeat the sentence which constituted the acceptance of Islam. In some cases they were successful in this, though, of course, many would not and some of them were killed for it.

Then came the rush of the Kurds. They came in hundreds from every Kurdish quarter, sore against the Christians for having joined forces with the Russians, who had armed them and drafted them for military service whether they would or not.

They, being armed, put up a fight and killed a good many Kurds in the battles at some of the villages, though there were a couple of thousand Syrians killed too in the villages, before they escaped to the slender protection offered by six unarmed American men in our mission compound. Our flag was put up, not only on our own property here in the city but on all the adjoining block of Christian property in the city ; doors were made or holes in the walls between all that adjoining property, to bring it under our control, and only our principal big street-gate was allowed to be opened, all others being barricaded. There in the city between ten and fifteen thousand, many thousands of them destitute, congregated and sat huddled in rooms, a hundred in a room or more, sometimes unable to lie down at night on account of the crowding.

We had a good deal of money entrusted to us by the people who had to flee, and as most of it is in silver ten-penny pieces, there being no paper money in circulation here, they could carry away but little, and we took charge of large sums without interest, to be used by us if necessary and repaid when banking was resumed. With this we began to feed the people. It was the system in the city to sell bread until noon, and after that to distribute one of the thin sheets of bread to every one who had nothing to eat and no money to buy anything. This distribution took a force of about twenty or thirty men seven hours to get through.

The city church is in the enclosure under the American flag, and it held three thousand ill-smelling people with their few earthly possessions remaining to them.

Here at the College we had about two thousand, and as we have few buildings the housing was a problem.

We had five hundred in the hospital. Our largest ward has only ten beds in it, and by putting people on the floor between the beds we could get in about twenty, but in two other large wards that we took the bedsteads out of, over a hundred apiece sat huddled together on the floor, without fire or lights, as we could not afford them for them. We had those who were destitute here ; those who had escaped with their cattle and a sack of flour or some bedding or a carpet we put over on the other side of the avenue in the College buildings.

I fed those on the hospital side besides attending to the regular hospital routine, which was heavier on account of the wounded Christians who were being brought in every day.

My own rooms consist of my dining room and sitting room, in one of which I have a couch to sleep on, a kitchen and a little room downstairs for my man.

I reserved one room for myself for living, dining and bedroom combined, and took in seven of the College boys, students from the mountains, who are here all the year round and whom I knew pretty well, to bring their native beds to live in my dining room. Seakhan had the kitchen full of her people and friends, seven or eight of them, and Choban took two families into his room downstairs.

The boys helped me by distributing the bread in the hospital and holding evening prayers in the different rooms in the hospital.

Then we all began to get the typhoid fever. We had some Turkish soldiers in the hospital with it, and the people were ignorant and careless, so we had an epidemic of it. We have. seven hundred new-made graves in our compound here at the College, as the result of it.

I have had it and recovered, and am as strong and well as ever, though somewhat thinner, fortunately. I had a Syrian trained nurse, the only one in Urmia, as I was the first missionary to go down with it, being in the most direct contact with it in the hospital (though Dr. Packard went down the day after I did). He also recovered. The little Swiss governess the Coans brought out with them was the first to die of the foreigners, and then followed the death of Mrs. McDowell and, this week, my dear Louise Shedd, my best friend here---a friend of fifteen years' standing from the time we were together in charge of the seminar . All my boys went down too, and my favourite one died---such a simple, sweet Christian boy. Others of the missionaries who have had it or are having it are Dr. Coan and Elizabeth, Bertha Shedd and Mrs. Müller. Mrs. Müller gave birth to a seven months' baby boy, who lived a day, and then she went on to have typhoid. Besides these there were Miss Lewis, Miss Schoebel, Miss Lamme and Mr. Allen.

In the hospital there was a time when the head physician-assistant, Dr. Daniel (who died of it), the matron, the druggist, all the nurses, the cook and the bake-woman, the steward and the washer-women were all down together, and two hundred and fifty patients to be taken care of. You can imagine, or rather you can't begin to imagine, the disorganisation of the place. Elizabeth Coan took my place at first, and in two weeks was having it. Then Miss Lamme came to take her place and in two weeks she, too, was on her back. The Syrian woman who came next to fill the vacancy is still at it, though I am back at some work, being now safe from infection. My man had it, but my woman has weathered the gale so far, and after three months we have to record to-day that for ten days past not one new case has come down here. One of the boys, Seakhan's mother and two of the men in Choban's room have died of it in my "family."

In the city it was even worse. It is raging in our big compound, though from the first they had from ten to forty deaths a day from cold, privation, illness of one kind and another, and perhaps shock from fright. In another part of the city, where we have a big school building for our Moslem boys'-school, three thousand people were rescued and brought in by Dr. Packard's valiant intervention, when he rode up to the Kurdish chief in the thick of a fight between Kurds and the villagers entrenched in Russian trenches and fighting for their lives, begged the lives of the inhabitants, and after parleying awhile succeeded in buying the souls of the people in exchange for their guns. He rode back to the city with them after the sun had set on a January night, reaching the city about nine o'clock, their homes being robbed and burned behind them by the Kurds.

Turkish rule and Kurdish plundering have reduced the inhabitants to the verge of starvation, and as yet the end is not in sight.

Yesterday the Turks and Kurds arose and departed, and it is supposed that the Russians are about to return. They are only a day's journey distant, having just been successful in a long fight with a Turkish army that came from Constantinople via Mosul, and after a three months' march was cut to pieces by the Russians near Gavilan, a day's journey from here. There were twenty thousand or more of them, well equipped, but the Russians had the advantage of a fortified position, a knowledge of the lie of the land and perhaps superior numbers. We don't know anything definite about that.

We haven't had a word of war news during 1915 so far, and feel as if we were in the bottom of a well as far as seeing what is going on about us is concerned.

No mail has penetrated the veil that hides the world from us, but we have had a telegram from the American Ambassador in Constantinople inquiring for our safety, and have sent telegrams saying we had not been disturbed personally, which is one of the miracles of missions, by the way. Just now things are very tense here; the Moslem Governor is doing well in trying to control things, but the Moslems hate the Christians, so that they are killing some of those who have gone back to their ruined villages to live.

There is no power of description that can overdraw the picture, that is and has been before our eyes constantly, of misery and distress. Instead we have to veil it, for details are too horrible, too revolting to try to convey to people who are not called upon by God to go through it. But whatever the end may be for me, I am sure I can only be thankful God has given me such an unlimited opportunity for service as these past months have been.

If the Russians come back or the Turks stay away, we shall have a mail system established again, if there is such a thing going on across the world nowadays. Since last July we have had little mail on account of the war, but some did leak through till the 1st January (1915), since when we have been like Moses when the light went out.

We are still feeding thousands of people---just enough bread every day to keep life in their bodies---and have saved the Syrian nation but have accumulated thirty or forty thousand dollars (six to eight thousand pounds sterling) of debt, which we don't know where to find money to repay. We only know of six thousand dollars (£1,200 sterling) that were telegraphed as relief two or three months ago. But we hope the Red Cross Society and charitable people in America will send us money.

We haven't even been able to get our money from the Board sent to Tabriz, but even what could be paid on our regular salaries has been paid out of these borrowed funds. However, when things settle down a little we can get at that if there are any of us left by that time.

Just now I have regularly one school-boy and often a few others at my table, as they are all hungry with the hunger that comes after typhoid and the College fare is reduced to bread and cheese.

The one who eats with me all the time is a boy from the village Dr. Packard delivered, Geogtapa, and his father was killed and his house burned and goods carried off or destroyed. Their food supplies were left, mostly, as the robbers got their fill and could only destroy the rest. For instance, a cellar had jars of molasses smashed and into that was thrown their flour, and on that pickles by jars-full---the big earthen pointed-bottomed jars that household supplies are all stored in here. Into this pudding were thrown their books, few in number, perhaps, but all the more valued for that. Then this boy, because he belongs to a village where soldier guards have been placed and some degree of safety assured, was told that he must go home. That was a general rule, and when I learned the state of things I told him he could eat with me till things cleared up. Then they have fields and vineyards that can be worked, and he has older brothers in America and Tiflis who will look after him. He is about eighteen, the youngest of the family and the only one left at home. He is only one case out of thousands equally at a loss just now. He has his room at the College and sleeps over there with other students.

I hope you have all been kept in safety during these months and will write to me all about yourselves and the world at large.


The day after the departure of our missionaries from Urmi, that is, the 3rd January (1915), the Kurds and Turks, and with them a great number of the Moslems of Urmi, began to raid and kill and to make captives from a large part of the Christian villages.

The majority of the Christians, to the number of about 25,000, took refuge in the courtyards of the Americans and French and in our own premises. Up to the present time there is a large number of the Syrians in our yard; another portion, we do not know how many, fled to Russia with the Russian army. The besieged people here were provided with bread, one portion each per day, by the missionaries; but many have not escaped death. People died from the following causes :---(1) From fear ; (2) from their bad dwelling places ; (3) from cold ; (4) from hunger ; (5) from typhoid fever---the dead up to now from this disease, as far as we can tell, are from 800 to 1,000. Those who died from the slaughter and raiding of villages numbered 6,000. Many died in the houses of their refuge from the causes mentioned above. About 2,000 died of those who fled (to Russia), either on the road or after their arrival there. In our house my daughter Beatrice died from fright, and, 25 days after Beatrice, Mrs. Nisan died from grief at the loss of her daughter ; also Michael, nephew of Khan Audishu, my relative, and to-day his wife, too. Nanajan, my daughter-in-law, and her two sisters are now in bed with typhoid fever.

One day 48 people were seized in the yard of the French Mission. Mar Dinkha, bishop of the Old Church, was one of them. As they were keeping him in prison some days, I tried to buy off Mar Dinkha with the promise of 50 gold pieces, but they asked 100. I was outwitted at that time, for as often as I raised my offer they would advance the price. Then they carried them outside, and when they were bound arm to arm they were all shot.

Once they went to the village of Gulpashan and demanded a sum of money; they took money and carried off everything else as well; 45 men who were on the watch were killed that night.

At the beginning of events, the Turks demanded, in the name of the Persian Government, every kind of weapon for hewing and cutting (instead of knives) ; these were all seized in the name of the Persian Government. Afterwards two Osmanli officers and some soldiers came to the houses and searched for weapons and men in our yards, and so to every room and cupboard. Boxes were opened and examined and the people were in the greatest fear.

One day afterwards they entered the yard and seized Mar Elia, the Russian Bishop and Doctor Lokman. After a long imprisonment the Bishop was ransomed for 6,500 tomans, and the doctor for 2,000 tomans. The Melet Bashi of the French was taken from their yard and afterwards ransomed for 3,000 tomans. Shamasha Lazar, whose house is just by the American gate, was seized and bought off for 4,500 tomans. The enemy had one list of 80 names, written by their own hand, of men who were doomed to be killed, or bought off at a great price.

Audishu Khan fled from our house to the house of a Moslem friend, and remained hidden for two months, but by the rogues of the village and the commander here he was robbed of 27,000 tomans.

One night two Turkish officers with some soldiers descended by means of a ladder into our yard ; they seized Mr. George, our neighbour, and the brother-in-law of Mr. Comin, who was groom in his house; also Jawar, our gatekeeper, and Babu our cook and his son; also Kasha Pilipus, natir kursi of Mar Yohannan, and Asakhan my servant. At that time, because I had two persons very ill, I was watching from the balcony of my house so that they might not enter my rooms. Twice they came beneath the balcony and looked up, and when they saw me they went away. There is no doubt that the angels were watching over us and sent these men away.

At first Jawar's brother and his son were seized, when carrying bread for him (Jawar). After an imprisonment of two nights and one day we got them out by paying 68 tomans for the two of them. A friend of mine worked this for my sake.

The Osmanlis and the Kurds left Urmi two days ago. The Russian army is now a little way from Urmi. To-day we are very confused and fearful; they are saying that the Russian army will return. One part of the Syrians have fled and left Urmi.

One letter previous to this one---I doubt if it has reached you. I shall be glad if you will let me know quickly what is to be my work here in the future, because just now I am like a bird without a nest and without companions. There is no word from Samuel my son, and I do not know where he is.


Dr. Jacob Sargis, an American Methodist medical missionary, who has arrived in Petrograd after narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Turks and Kurds in Urmia, Persian Armenia, asserts that among the outrages committed against the Christian refugees was the burning to death of an American doctor named Simon, or Shimmun, as he was known there. His identity was not further established, but the story of the outrage, as told by Dr. Sargis, was as follows:

"Dr. Shimmun was in the village of Supurghan when the Turks attacked that place. He was among those who took refuge on a mountain near the lake. He was captured and told that since he had been a good doctor and had helped the wounded, they would not kill him, but that he must accept the Mohammedan faith. He refused, as almost all Christians did. They poured oil on him, and, before applying the torch, they gave him another chance to forsake his religion. Again he refused, and they set his clothes afire. While he was running in agony from the flames, the Turks shot him several times. After he fell to the ground unconscious, they hacked his head off. Mr. Allen, an American missionary, who went from village to village burying the victims of this butchery, found the body of Shimmun half eaten by dogs.

"The Catholic Mission there took 150 Christians of all sects, and kept them in a small room and tried to save them; but at least 49 of them, among them one Bishop Dinkha, of the Episcopal Mission, were bound together one night, taken to Gagin mountain and there shot down."

Mr. Sargis was born in Persia, but went to America in 1893, and was educated there by the assistance of Dr. W. F. Oldham, former Bishop of India. He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio Medical University, and was for a time resident physician of the Protestant hospital at Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Sargis was doing relief work in Urmia on the 1st January last year when the Russian army retired from that city, followed by 14,000 refugees from Urmia and a hundred surrounding villages. The hardships and sufferings endured by those refugees were described in Associated Press despatches. There were still left in Urmia and the villages 45,000 persons, chiefly Armenian refugees, when the Turks and Kurds entered. The latter at once began the work of exterminating the Christian population. In one town alone, Gulpashan, in one right, according, to Dr. Sargis, 79 men and boys were tied hand to hand, taken to a hill outside the village and shot. Their wives and daughters were distributed among the Turks, Kurds and Persian Mohammedans.

Dr. Sargis' story continues :

"On the second day after the Turkish officers came, they had a good many wounded and sick. As soon as they heard that I was an able physician, they took me, gave me a bodyguard, and put me in charge of Urmia Hospital. That was how I came to learn most of their secrets ; I helped their wounded and sick. One day there were sixty men brought from Bashkala, all well-to-do citizens, some of them noted men of that place. They were used as beasts of burden and forced to carry rolls of barbed wire into Urmia. The next day they were all taken to .the Castle of Ismayil (48) and every one was shot or hacked to death.

"About that time Nuri, the governor of Gawar, told me that he had received word from the Turkish commander to kill all the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army. He said that, for my sake, he would not do it, but that somebody else would. Twenty-nine were killed about fifteen miles from Urmia, at Karmad. We had eight of them in the city, fine fellows, some of them educated in Beirout. They had been disarmed, and one night they took them to the suburbs and shot them. But one of them, named Aslam(49), escaped. He dropped with the others , but was not hit. After the butchers left, he made his way to the Presbyterian mission college. I was notified and asked to take care of him. I kept him until the Russian army came. He joined, and is now fighting with them.

"In the First Turkish corps, commanded by Halil Bey, there were about 400 Armenians. One of them, Gulbenkian, a graduate of Beirout, told me that they were all doomed to be butchered. When they appointed me head physician of the hospital, they gave me plenty of helpers, including seven Christian nurses, six Arabs and one Greek. Gulbenkian told me that if I did not help them they would be killed. An Arab doctor, Bahadin Effendi, was appointed to work under my direction. My Greek nurse warned me that Bahadin had already killed more than fifty Armenian Christians, and cautioned me to watch him. One night about ten o'clock, Bahadin sent for me, saying that he was sick. Fortunately for me, the Greek and two Armenian nurses went with me. When I reached the hospital, I found that Bahadin was not sick at all. He said to me: 'What business have you to disturb me at this time of the night ? Your coming shows that you have some designs upon my life.' I told him that it was a mistake, that I had been told he was sick, and went away. At the bottom of the stairs I was overtaken by an officer, who said that the doctor had not done with me. I protested, but was ordered to go back. So I put my trust in the Lord and went.

"The doctor greeted me with the question. 'Who gave you permission to leave the room ? ' and continued: 'You are a prisoner, and you will never see the light of to-morrow's sun.' I told him that I was an American citizen. and that I was helping the wounded for the sake of humanity. He cut me off by saying: 'This is wartime. The top of your cap is green. That means that you are a descendant of the prophet, and it will give me pleasure to destroy your life to-night. I must think how I shall kill you. I could throw you out of the window, but that would be too quick. I could shoot you, but that also is too good for you. I shall have to use my sword. You sit down there in that corner, and these Turkish nurses will sing your funeral before I begin to cut you up.'

"The Turks began to sing a droning chant and I had no choice but to sit and listen. My bodyguard, the Greek nurse Theodore and two Armenian soldiers, the latter my servants, stood outside the door, and when they heard the chanting they thought it was all over with me. The Greek, who was a shrewd fellow, told my bodyguard to enter, and, if he saw me, to say that the patients wanted to see the doctor. All of a sudden I saw him enter with a lantern. He saluted the effendi and said: 'The patients want the doctor.' I didn't give Bahadin a chance to say a word. I was up and out and down in the street in about two seconds. When I got to the outpost they yelled from the window to stop me, but they were too late. My bodyguard and the Armenians and the Greek followed close behind me, and I got away. I reached home at midnight. My wife and children thought I was already dead."

Dr. Sargis turned the tables on the Arab doctor by alleging that he was insane, and having him put under guard and on a milk diet, notwithstanding that he was a doctor in Halil Bey's army.

"Soon after the Russians left Urmia a German machinist, Neumann, who came in with the Turks, announced himself as German Consul. By his orders a Christian of the name of Moushi was hanged. Neumann had promised me to release Moushi, but overnight he sold him to the Turks for £50. An Englishman named Jonathan George, well known in Tabriz, a relative of my wife, was whipped on Neumann's orders. In the village of Karadjalu a young Christian with a wife and two children was killed by a Mohammedan. The murderer took the wife and children, promising to protect them; but while crossing a bridge he threw the children into the river. At Ardishai 75 women and girls ran into the sea(50) to escape the Turks. They refused to trust promises of safety if they came out, and were all shot as they stood in the water. Eight thousand five hundred died in the vicinity of Urmia in five months; 1, 500 were killed, and the rest died of cold and hunger.

"During the days of the Turkish occupation it was no unusual sight to see an old woman carrying the body of her daughter or son to a place of burial, digging the grave herself or with the aid of other women."


A sad case was that of the mother of a girl of twelve who was being taken away to a life of slavery. The mother protested and tried to save her child, who was ruthlessly torn from her. As the daughter was being dragged away the mother made so much trouble for her oppressors, and clung to them so tenaciously, that they stabbed her twelve times before she fell, helpless to save her little girl from her fate. This woman recovered from her wounds. Some people were shot as they ran, and children that they were carrying were killed or wounded with them. In some cases men were lined up so that several could be shot with one bullet, in order not to waste ammunition on them.

At the height of the epidemic not less than two thousand were sick. The mortality reached forty-eight daily, and the fact that four thousand died, besides the one thousand who were killed, will help. to make vivid the terrible conditions that prevailed in our crowded premises. All ranks have suffered---preachers, teachers, physicians, etc., as well as the poor---for all had to live in the same unhygienic surroundings.

One of the most terrible things that came to the notice of the Medical Department was the treatment of Syrian women and girls by the Turks, Kurds and local Mohammedans. After the massacre in the village of ------, almost all the women and girls were outraged, and two little girls, aged eight and ten, died in the hands of Moslem villains. A mother said that not a woman or girl above twelve (and some younger) in the village of------ escaped violation. This is the usual report from the villages. One man, who exercised a great deal of authority in the northern part of the Urmia plain, openly boasted of having ruined eleven Christian girls, two of them under seven years of age, and he is now permitted to return to his home in peace and no questions are asked. Several women from eighty to eighty-five years old have suffered with the younger women. One woman who was prominent in the work of the Protestant Church in another village was captured by eighteen men and taken to a solitary place, where they had provided for themselves food and drink. She was released the next day and permitted to drag herself away. Later she came to the city to accuse her outragers, and practically did not get a hearing from the Government.

There is little to relieve the blackness of this picture. The Government gave some assistance in the finding and returning of Christian girls. A few have been brought back by Kurds. In one case eleven girls and young women, who had been taken away from Geogtapa, were sent to me by the chief of the Zarza tribe of Kurds. Several companies have been sent also by the Begzadi Kurds to Targawar. Since the return of the Russians to Urmia some of the Kurds have tried to curry favour by returning prisoners that they have held for months, but quite a number are still held by them, some of them women who have been married to some of the principal servants of the chiefs.

It would not be right to close this report of medical work in Urmia without a word about the native physicians. One of them received a martyr's crown early in January in the village of Khanishan. Four died in the epidemics. One had been a worker for many years in the plain of Gawar, two days' journey to the west of Urmia. One of them was a companion in the attempt to find Karini Agha at the very beginning of the troubles here that resulted in the rescue of the people of Geogtapa. One was the assistant in the hospital. He had been in the hospital since his graduation in 1908, and was a most faithful and efficient man. During the awful first days of fear, murder and rapine, it was his hands that dressed and re-dressed most of the wounded, with the help of medical students. He thought little of himself and wore himself out until he could not eat, keeping on at his work for three days after he began to be ill. His life was given in the noblest self-sacrifice, and many people will remember him with deep affection. The fourth was one of the refugees in our yard who, though he was not very active, frequently prescribed for a number of patients. His wife, who is a graduate in medicine in America, in spite of the death of her husband and two children, kept bravely on with her work, trying to relieve some of the suffering. She had charge of the maternity cases and examined many of the outraged women and girls after they finally reached us.

The most diabolically cold-blooded of all the massacres was the one committed above the village of Ismael Agha's Kala, when some sixty Syrians of Gawar were butchered by the Kurds at the instigation of the Turks. These Christians had been used by the Turks to pack telegraph wire from over the border, and while they were in the city of Urmia they were kept in close confinement, without food or drink. On their return, as they reached the valleys between the Urmia and Baradost plains, they were all stabbed to death, as it was supposed, but here again, as in two former massacres, a few wounded, bloody victims succeeded in making their way to our hospital.

The testimony of the survivors of the massacre at Ismael Agha's Kala is confirmed by the following extract from a letter, dated 8th November, 1915, from the Rev. E. T. Allen of Urmia:

Politically, things are in apparently good order. People are easily frightened and are nervous, but we have good hopes. Yesterday I went to the Kala of Ismael Agha and from there to Kasha, and some men went with me up the road to the place where the Gawar men were murdered by the Turks. It was a gruesome sight---perhaps the worst I have seen at all.

There were seventy-one or two bodies ; we could not tell exactly, because of the conditions. It is about six months since the murder. Some were in fairly good condition---dried, like a mummy. Others were torn to pieces by the wild animals. Some had been daggered in several places, as was evident from the cuts in the skin. The majority of them had been shot. The ground about was littered with empty cartridge-cases. It was a long way off from the Kala, and half-an-hour's walk from the main road into the most rugged gorge I have seen for some time. I suppose the Turks thought no word could get out from there---a secret, solitary, rocky gorge. How those three wounded men succeeded in getting out and reaching the city is more of a marvel than I thought it was at the time. The record of massacre burials now stands as follows :--

At Tcharbash, forty in one grave, among them a bishop. At Gulpashan, fifty-one in one grave, among them the most innocent persons in the country; and now, above the Kala of Ismael Agha, seventy in one grave, among them leading merchants of Gawar.

These one hundred and sixty-one persons, buried by me, came to their death in the most cruel manner possible, at the hands of regular Turkish troops in company with Kurds under their command.


Seeing that Ararat is truly a searchlight on all the sufferings of Eastern Christians, a comforter to the broken-hearted and a fighter for their rights, I have felt it my duty and privilege to write just some bare facts of the past and present position of the Syrians in Urmi (Urmia) and Salmas in Persia, and in the Kurdistan mountains south of Van. What I will say of Urmi and Salmas applies equally to the Armenians of the two places, in the latter of which they predominate.

The Russian troops had been in occupation of Azerbaijan, north-western Persia, for a number of years, and their presence meant safety, prosperity and security of person and property both to Christians and Moslems alike. Under the conditions then prevailing, the Kurds had been restrained entirely from their occupation of plunder, and the Turks were deprived of prominence in that part of Persia which they have coveted for years. The Persians also have been restless, and their attitude towards the Christians was somewhat doubtful. On the 2nd January, 1915, it was suddenly known that the Russian army, consulate and all, were leaving Urmi---and not that alone, but it was found later that they were withdrawing from all northern Persia. It came like a thunderbolt, for it had been positively stated all along to the Christian population that the Russian army would under no circumstances withdraw from Urmi. Here, then, in the heart of winter, some 45,000 Christians, from nine to ten days' journey from the nearest railway station to the Russian border, found themselves in a very precarious position. No conveyances, horses, &c., &c., could be had for love or money. Roughly speaking, one-third of the people who happened to know of this withdrawal, through whose villages the army was to pass, left for Russia. The great majority simply left their homes and walked out. Some only heard of the withdrawal during the night, and so could hardly make any provision for the journey. A good number of people from Tergawar and Mergawar, and outlying districts, who were already refugees in Urmi---having been plundered on two or three occasions previously---left with the army. So there was a concourse of over 10,000 people, mostly women and children, walking in the bitter cold, scantily provided, sore-footed, wearied, that had to make their way to the Russian frontier over mountains and along miserable roads and through swamps. Their cries and shrieks as they walked were heart-rending. The people of Salmas had left two or three days earlier and under somewhat better conditions. There was a swamp between Salmas and Khoi where people actually went knee-deep, where oxen and buffaloes died of cold, and where there was no real resting place and provisions could only be procured from a distance of some ten miles. The agonies of the children were inexpressible. Some mothers had two or three children to take care of, and they dragged one along while they carried the other on their shoulders. Many died on the roadside, many lost their parents, many were left unburied, many were picked up by the Russian cossacks and were taken to the Russian Caucasus to, be there cared for by Armenians and others. Such was their plight when they reached Russia, and in some way or another were provided for in the Syrian and Armenian villages in Erivan and in Tiflis, where they passed their time till the spring, when they again wearied of their lives and returned to Urmi and Salmas in the months of May and June.

About two-thirds of the people who stayed behind at Urmi had the cruellest of fates. No sooner had the Russian forces withdrawn than the roads were closely guarded, and no one was permitted to come in or go out of Urmi for over four months. The Kurds poured in from every quarter, and the Persian Moslems joined hands with them. They engulfed the Christian villages ; plunder, pillage, massacre and rape were the order of the day. Every village paid its share. First they killed the men, then they took the women---those who had not escaped---and carried them away for themselves or forced them to become Moslems, and finally they plundered and burned the villages. In one village 80 were killed, in another 50, in a third 30, and so the thing went on in varying degrees among the 70 odd villages in Urmi. About one thousand people were disposed of in this way. In the meantime all that were able escaped to the city to the American mission quarters, whose premises were soon filled to suffocation, and altogether some 20,000 people or more found shelter in the American and French mission quarters, while some hid themselves among Moslem friends and landlords. These refugees, in their flight, were repeatedly robbed on the way by soldiers and officers sent for their protection, and by civilians as well. Many a woman came terror-stricken, shrieking, and bleeding, and almost naked; and many were forced to become Moslems. Some 150 cases or more of these unfortunate women came under the notice of the American missionaries, who tried to restore them to their own folk. One woman had two sons, four and six years of age, who were thrown into a brook to freeze, while the brute of a mullah set to work to force their mother. She at last escaped and took away. the children alive, but they died of exposure the next morning.

Thus in the course of a fortnight all the 45,000 Syrians and Armenians were plundered---not one village escaped. There was no exception. The village of Iriawa was in the keeping of an Armenian---a Turkish subject. He, with twelve other Armenian soldiers, was shot, and the village plundered. Gulpashan was the last to be attacked, when, on the 1st February, 51 of its elders were taken during the night to the graveyard and there murdered most horribly and their brains knocked out. The orgies committed on women and tender girls can be left only to the imagination. I have known the village from childhood and all its inhabitants.

The refugees in the French and American mission yards remained there for over four and a half months, in daily terror and fear of their lives ; the quarters were crowded to suffocation, and no man dared leave the premises. Seeing that a few houses of Christians were left in the city which were not plundered, the dozen or less of Turkish officials, who had control of things, began to fleece the people. They forced them to pay a fine of 6,600 tomans (a toman is about one pound sterling{53}), on the pretext that the Christian stores, offices and shops in the city would be saved from plunder. But no sooner was this sum extracted through the kindly offices of the American missionaries than they began to put up to auction and dispose of all the shops, offices and stores. Not satisfied with what they had done, they obtained 5,500 tomans as blood money for Mar Elia, the Syrian Bishop, whom they found in hiding on the roof of a house, and threatened to kill him unless the money was paid. Then, again, such prominent men as Shamasha Lazar, Shamasha Babu and Dr. Isaac Daniel had to pay 3,000, 2,000 and 1,000 tomans respectively to save their lives. Such was the perpetual terror in which the whole community lived.

Soon disease broke out, typhoid played havoc, and over 4,000 died of the epidemic alone. There was scarcely any life left in the remnant of the people when the Russians retook Urmi in May. They were worn out and so emaciated that one could hardly recognise them. It was the first time for months that they were able to crawl out of their filthy winter quarters and to inhale fresh air. The Americans, who had fed these people all through the winter, now gave the men and women spades and sickles to return to their villages, and some flour to start life in their ruined homes. I have seen villages turned to ashes, where not one window door or any woodwork was to be found. Indeed, one day a woman came and said to me: "I have one room out of seven left on the second storey, but what shall I do ? There is not a single ladder in all the village that I can borrow so as to mount to it." What they had left in their "homes," these people found on their return to have been eaten by dogs and cats. They have not sown anything this autumn, nor were they able to do any sowing or cultivating in the spring. Ninety per cent. of them have absolutely nothing left, and they sleep on the bare hard earthen floor, with no bedding or any other protection beyond their ordinary rags. This is their second winter!

The majority of the Salmas Christians had left for Russia by the time the Urmi people reached Salmas. But there were some left who had hidden themselves among kind Moslems here and there. When the Turks took possession of Salmas, they used every means to find out the whereabouts and number of all the Christians that had remained behind, and one night during March last they took some 723 Armenians and Syrians to the fields in Haftevan and mangled and butchered them in a most brutal manner. Three days later the Russians retook Salmas and buried these people in some trenches which they dug for them. The same fate was awaiting the women, and perhaps worse, but the advent of the Russians saved them.

The troubles of Mar Shimun's independent tribes of Tiari, Tkhuma, &c., in Kurdistan, south of Van, began last June. Mar Shimun's seat in the village of Quodshanis was attacked by regular troops and Kurds, destroyed and plundered. Most of the people escaped to Salmas. Mar Shimun at the time was in the interior with the main body of his congregation. A regular Turkish force with artillery and some 30,000 Kurds, &c., marched on the Christians. The forty villages of Berwar, those nearest towards Mosul, were destroyed first, and only some seventeen of them are known to have escaped. The women of many of the others have been forced to become Moslems. For forty days the people defended themselves against superior forces, and that only with flintlocks and antiquated rifles. At last, unable to withstand the onslaught of modern artillery, with which the Turks also bombarded the Church of Mar Sawa, the people withdrew to the interior of the mountains with the Patriarch's family in their centre ; and here they subsisted on herbs and some sheep they had taken with them, while many were daily dying of starvation. Mar Shimun came to Salmas---I had an interview with him there, and he has sent me to speak for him and his---to effect the escape of his people, or at least of as many of them as could be saved. All this happened in the latter part of September, when, according to the telegram received here from H.B.M. Consul Shipley at Tabriz, some 25,000 had already arrived, and with them Mar Shimun, himself as destitute as the rest, while 10,000 more were to follow. The condition of the remnant, for in all there are over 100,000, is very precarious, but let us hope not hopeless. Assistance can be sent to them through Mar Shimun and through H.B.M. Consul Shipley.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission and the Armenian (Lord Mayor's) Relief Fund have sent £500 and £550 respectively to these people. I understand that the Lord Mayor's Fund is telegraphing a further £500 for the relief of the Christians in Persia for which I for one feel infinitely grateful, as it cannot but assuaged some of the terrible suffering that exists.

Let us now survey the whole situation. As over 90 per cent. of the Christians at Urmi are destitute, and the condition of some 10,000 to 15,000 Armenians and Syrians in Salmas is not much better, we have at once some 80,000 people and more who must be assisted, if they are not to starve during the coming winter. I this we are not taking into account the remnant of Mar people or any Armenians that might have found their way to Persia, where the Russians are now in occupation, and where the condition of the Christians will be, so far as personal safety goes, more hopeful. The turn events are taking politically in Persia seems also favourable, but one must never be too confident of the political situation there.

I am delighted to see such a magnificent spirit of response from all corners of the world whence Armenians themselves are coming to the help of their countrymen. We have to cheer each other up in our misfortunes in every way we can, till God in His own way shall solve the problem. And with such noble friends as we have in England, among whom are the Primate, Lord Bryce, and Members of Parliament like Mr. Aneurin Williams and Mr. T. P . O'Connor, and I am sure in America as well-people who would do anything for us-let us be patient and prayerful, hoping for, recompense and release from this tyranny that has had us in its grip ever since Mohammedan rule began in our country.


The following is the story of how a Bishop, nay, an Archbishop, at the risk of his own life, saved 35,000 souls---one-third of his flock---from the pursuing Kurds and Turks, and from impending starvation on the heights of the Kurdistan Mountains. He was already in the zone of safety, where he could well have stayed; but he turned back, saying: "I am going back to die with my people." By so doing, he rescued a multitude of his people from almost certain massacre.

It will be remembered that the Assyrians (better known in Church history as the Nestorian or Syrian Christians) dwell on both sides of the Turco-Persian frontier. The bulk of them live in the very inaccessible mountains of Kurdistan, east of Mosul, which is in Mesopotamia, and south of Lake Van; while a goodly number live in the beautiful plains of Urmia and Salmas in northwestern Persia and in the adjacent country districts bordering on Turkey. Over the former district Mar Shimun, the Patriarch, is the supreme ecclesiastical and civil ruler.

Early last June the Turkish forces with irregular Kurds, under the leadership and direction of the Kaimakam, made an attack on the court of Mar Shimun in Quodshanis---a Turkish governor making an attack on peaceful subjects of the Turkish Empire for the simple reason that they were Christians. Quodshanis is an isolated place. The Patriarch and members of his court were in the interior with the main body of his church, so the people of the village could hardly be expected to make more than a bare resistance. For two days they fought from within the church, but soon their ammunition was exhausted, and the women and children were in a desperate position. At night they set out for the plains of Salmas in Persia, where I saw them in a most pitiable condition. The Patriarchal house, the English mission, and the larger part of the place was plundered and burned. Even the tombs of former Patriarchs were violated.

In the meanwhile a formidable army was being gathered against the independent dwellers in the valleys of Tkhuma, Tiari, Baz, &c. Both Turkish regulars and Kurds, it is said, to the extent of some 30,000, made a combined attack on the people who had kept their independence since Tamerlane and Ghengis Khan had driven them to the craggy mountains, where in some places they have to carry soil on their backs to make artificial fields. For the first time in the life of the people, artillery was brought up to bombard their ancient and venerable churches, while they themselves made a stout resistance with flintlocks and ammunition of their own make.

For forty days they carried on an unequal warfare against tremendous odds, until at last with their families they took refuge on the top of a high mountain in the Tal country. The Patriarchal family took shelter in the famous church of Mar Audishu, and the others who had been able to effect an escape surrounded them, making a big camp. The Turks and Kurds, after having destroyed the Christian villages in the valleys below, carrying away the crops and plundering everything, endeavoured to starve the fugitives out. Near the church mentioned above there is a small fountain gushing from a rock which was hardly enough to supply drinking water, and for washing and bathing they would often steal at nights to the valleys beneath. The people stayed here for nearly three months, never taking off their clothes and always on the lookout for an attack by night. The few sheep that they had taken with them on their flight were almost eaten up now---they had no salt at all, and soon hunger and sickness began to make their ravages. There was no necessity to deport this Christian population. Its mere starvation in the mountains was all that was needed to make an end of the oldest Apostolic Church in existence.

In the meantime Mar Shimun, the Patriarch, with a few brave men, had stolen out by night and made his way to the Russian army operating in Salmas, Persia. He was received with great distinction, but it was found out after many precious weeks of delay that it might not be possible to send any relief for the people in the interior who were not in the line of march. Later on, the Russians sent their army to Van, and then Mar Shimun with a few faithful followers and good rifles---he himself is an excellent shot---set out again for the interior to reach his flock and his brothers and sisters. They soon made ready to take the congregation through the valleys and defiles to the plains of Persia.

The last day of their stay was the saddest of all. On that day Ishaya, a brother of the Patriarch, died of fever. Mar Shimun, hearing of his illness, had come over the day before. The enemy was then very near, and they could hear the sound of the guns in Tkhuma. Just when the funeral of his brother was to take place, Surma and Romi, his sisters, and Esther, his sister-in-law, were compelled to leave the place, lest they should be caught by the enemy. Mar Shimun, two priests and a few laymen remained behind at this time of danger to bury Ishaya. The burial service was quickly said and the body hastily interred, and Mar Shimun hastened after the fleeing women and children. They were only just in time, for, a few hours after their departure, the Turks arrived and made straight for the church, having heard that the Patriarch's household was there.

I shall not dwell on the horrors of those caught and slain on the way nor on the many beautiful villages ruined and the women taken captive, nor on the thousands of others who have met the same fate. In one district of forty villages, its Bishop said to me, only seventeen had been able to make an escape, and he knew but very little of the fearful fate of the rest. I want only to speak of the living who are anxious to die, but to whom death does not come. They arrived in Persia at places already ruined; they camped out in the plain of Salmas (4,000 feet above sea level) sleeping in the fields with no clothes to cover them at night, clad in the rags which they have worn for many months, without food or shelter. Some assistance has gone to them from America and England. Some quilts were bought to be distributed, one for each family of five persons, to serve as cover in the bitter cold. Some families have as many as ten members, indeed one had twenty-eight. These are the people who have been living on one dollar a month, and to whom flour is served in quantity, barely sufficient to allow each person one small loaf a day and nothing more. I dare say that even their Bishops and other clergy are in not much better condition than their flock.

Assistance, however, can now be sent out to them and will reach them immediately. Urmia and Salmas are now in the zone of safety, where there are many Russian troops, and these have been very kind to the suffering Christians. Money is being sent through the American Consul, the missionaries and the Patriarch, and is at once distributed to the sufferers. The Rev. Y. M. Nisan, who is still alive, although he has lost his wife and daughter, is on the distributing committee. The defeat of the Turks at Erzeroum means peace and safety of life for all Armenia and Persia. In the latter country there are over 80,000 destitute, the majority of them Assyrians, and some Armenians as well. Money is distributed to all without discrimination.

I have purposely avoided saying anything of the horrors that we have suffered at Urmia and the agonies we have passed through, simply because I have felt that the condition of these mountaineers is even more pitiable. I hope Christian people will be moved at once to make an effort to save them from the clutches of starvation. The gallant Patriarch has saved them and brought them out of Turkey, where relief will get to them. I therefore appeal to all my friends and to others who may be so disposed to help rescue this ancient Church.


(a) Extract from a letter, dated 8th November, 1915, from the Rev. E. T. Allen (?).

As you know, the first attack by the combined force of Turks and Kurds was made in June and was partially successful. The people were driven out of their valleys into the high mountains central to Tiari, Tkhoma, Tal and Baz. In this movement not many lives were lost, but many villages were destroyed. The hostile forces were for some reason withdrawn, and for some weeks there was comparative quiet, broken only by spasmodic attacks by local forces. About three weeks ago there was another concerted attack made by the Turks and Kurds on their stronghold in the mountain top, and they were driven out. Between fifteen and twenty thousand, with great difficulty, made their escape, part of their road being held by the Kurds. They came down the Tal and Kon Valleys, followed by the Kurds, and attempted to turn up the Zab to get out by way of Djoulamerk. They found the Kurds in force at the Djoulamerk bridge, and were forced to turn down stream. At the head of Tiari they crossed the Zab and went up into the hills, which they found deserted by the Kurds, who had gone to war. They then made their way round behind Djoulamerk, meeting no hostile force until they reached the ridge between Quodshanis and the Zab. Here again they found a force of Kurds waiting for them. They had quite a sharp fight with them and the Kurds were worsted. From there on they had no more trouble reaching Bashkala in safety, and later coming down to Salmas.

These are the people I found in Salmas. They number, according to my estimate, between fifteen and twenty thousand. Among them are Mar Shimun and his family and all our helpers, with one or two exceptions. (Mar Shimun is the Patriarch of the Nestorian Church.)

With reference to those who were left in the mountains, perhaps a thousand more succeeded in getting through. There are still some thousands shut up there, and their fate is still uncertain. How many were killed in this last attack, I have found no one who could give even an estimate, but undoubtedly the number must be large. This is in reference to those in Salmas. All the facts cannot be given out, but this is their case in brief. The mass of them are without shelter of any kind and also without bedding. They are sleeping on the bare ground without covering. The rains have begun and the winter promises to set in early. What all this means to these thousands who are without shelter, you need not be told.

Since coming down a great many of them have been taken sick with a peculiar form of bowel trouble, such as the mountaineers have been having here. Dr. David Yohannan estimates that there are as many as one thousand cases. The fatality is not as great as might be expected, but there are a great many deaths. One tribe reported forty deaths within a week. I have seen the dead lying on the roadside, and the women carrying their dead, orders to move on giving them little time to die decently or to be buried with respect. I gave no relief while there. Along the road they had gathered up a little grain; the Russians were giving out 1,200 loads, and help was being given on the threshing floor and from door to door. I have been making a complete list, so that when we are ready to begin we shall have them classified and shall be able to handle them. We shall give flour or wheat in weekly allowances. The cost per head will be about five shahis (1d.). I shall refrain from giving as long as I see they can subsist on what they get from other sources.

Bedding is needed as badly as food. There is not much choice between dying from hunger or dying from cold. We shall have to supply several thousand outfits, cost of each about three-and-a-half tomans (12s.). You may rest assured that I shall use the utmost caution in the giving of relief.

There is no further word from those left in the mountains. There is still hope that some of them may succeed in getting through, but undoubtedly many will be lost.

(b) Extract from a letter, of later date, from a missionary.(54)

About 150 or more of the Mutran's(55) people came down. Some of the children were a sight to see for destitution. I had a tableful of women to breakfast with me the next morning, including one of our own pupils who was married into the Mutran's family. They said that 200 Turks had been living off them since a year ago, but that their flocks had been so multiplied that they were able to sustain the burden. At last the Turks began sending twenty men every day with packs on their backs to Mosul, loaded with the spoils of their houses, so they feared their own end or deportation might be near ; they found a chance to escape one day when their guards were a mile or two away, and silently stole away with some of their possessions.

(c) Extract from a letter, of later date, from a missionary.(56)

Some of the refugees in Salmas had flocks and possessions, but all were ravaged by disease, so that even if they had work they could not do It. A boy who was with me found his relatives among the people. One uncle of his had been living in the barracks. He had lost his three children one after the other, and then his wife died and he had no one to care for his affairs but himself. He was so weak he could not do anything---reduced to skin and bone himself---but he got a rope and tried to carry the body of his wife on his back to bury her somewhere. He had not even strength enough to dig her a grave. There the story ended. The boy said the man broke down and could not tell any more, and he did not have the heart to ask what had become of her.

Another of our preachers has lost three of his four children, and the last was very ill when we saw her. His wife had lost her brother and two sisters---one of them a pupil in the Fiske Seminary.


I have not written to you for a long time. I think you will know the reason is that the war with Turkey has stopped the post to Europe. As you know, during past years there have been difficulties between the Turks and ourselves, but now the truth of the matter is made clear. When we saw many Christians of Gawar and Albek killed without reason, we thought our turn would come. Every kind of warfare commenced, and since then, for months, we have been fighting in the mountains; in the end we were not successful, because the Kurds were helped by the artillery of the Turkish Government. Of course when our cartridges were exhausted we could not stand before the great force of Turkish artillery. Then first of all Tiari was destroyed; we then thought we could flee to the mountains in the hope of victory, but soon the Turks came to the entrance of Tkhoma and our hope was destroyed---either we must deliver ourselves to Turkey and be killed or flee to save ourselves. We did the latter, but even then half the nation was left behind.

Now we are here in Diliman, Salmas; but the larger part of Tiari and Tkhoma is conquered. Up to the present time we have no news of those people; whether they are alive or have been destroyed, we know not.

Many of the refugees who come here are dying of hunger; they have no bedding, and many men just died on the way here. Would you were here to see with your own eyes our state; your sympathy would indeed be aroused. All the houses have been destroyed (also Mar Shimun's house and your Mission house in Quodshanis) and burnt and robbed; we are in rags and hunger and in a strange land. Many of the houses where you have spent the night as a guest have no bedding, the house of Malik Ismail, for instance, and the house of Khiyu.

Of all these the condition of the Tkhumnai is the most miserable; they are quite destitute. If some help is not forthcoming for the nation all hope of survival is at an end, for three parts will die of hunger. Our thanks are due to the Russian Consul, who is taking care to distribute the people among the villages to prevent them dying of cold, for all are under trees and in fields in the open.

In the course of February, Esther and I and her children went down to Malik Ismail's house in Tiari, for we thought it would be safer there. Then we soon moved from Tehumbar to Dadush, a small village of Tiari. When the Turkish army drew near that place we fled to the Church of Mar Audishu of Tal. In each place we were obliged to leave behind some of our clothes and our bedding; many times we were hungry; we made our journeys by night, and Esther's little children would fall asleep on the road. Three months we stayed in Mar Audishu, the whole time the fighting drawing nearer. Our brothers are fighting in Dizan, and there every three or four men are sleeping together for want of quilts at night. We sleep with our clothes on, ready to start when it may be necessary. In Mar Audishu the food was good, but the provision for sleeping and bathing was bad. Soap there was none; water could be had for drinking and cooking only. Sometimes we would go down to one of the Tal villages to wash our clothes and to bathe.

From Quodshanis everything we possessed was carried off and our house destroyed. A few quilts we brought to Dizan ; these we could not bring away with us because we had no mules, for the Kurds had carried them off, and I think they will now remain for our neighbours (the Kurds). Of clothes to wear we had only enough for the road, but not enough for the cold of the winter. When we came here, on the road, we saw some women who had never known want entirely naked; we divided our clothes among them, giving them just enough to prevent them dying of cold. During all these years our state has been, glory to God, that only our souls have been chastened, but finally one thing has befallen us which we can never forget. I recall the last days that I stood in the Church. I had gone down to Dizan because Paulus. my brother, was sick and Ishaya(57) was ill with fever in Mar Audisbu. It was at the time ---when the guns of the Turks were drawn up before Tkhuma and were moving forward---then it was. he sickened and died. Mar Shimun had arrived there a little before. Romi(58) and Esther(59) and her children, at that very time of great sorrow, when they least wished to leave, had to set out, weeping, with their families. Only Mar Shimun with two priests and a few men remained in the Church for the funeral service, for as quickly as they could they had to place the body of Ishaya in the grave and hasten after their families. Going quickly on foot they arrived at Darawar, where Malik Ismail was. Those little children (God bless them) went on foot, without a servant, accompanied by Romi and Esther. That day, if our .families had delayed in Mar Audishu, they would have been prisoners now in Turkey. The day after they left, the Turkish army entered the Church, for they knew we were there. But, thanks be to God, we had escaped.

Paulus is better, and now our family is with Mar Shimun in Diliman. Up to the present time we have not hired a house, for we do not know where we shall settle down. There is a Church here.

Mr. McDowell came from Urmia to see us and they hope to help this people as much as they can with food and clothing.

Of all the things that were left in our house I am sorrowing most of all for my English books that have gone. Those of our own language are hidden ; I do not know whether they will be safe or not. I only left about forty in Dizan.


I was very glad to get your sweet letter, for which I was longing and looking forward, my dearest friend. I know how you loved Ishaya, and he always asked after you. I wonder if you ever got his letter that he wrote to you in Syriac.

I wrote to you while at Quodshanis (before the war) but got no answer ; I wondered if you might be away from home. I wonder if Mr. Wigram and Mr. Heazell got my letters, written since we came to Diliman; I am afraid you won't get yours, the address was incorrect.

You most kindly asked after Hormizd. I wish we knew his fate, dear boy; we have no news of him since the 20th February (5th March), 1915. I asked Mrs. Wigram if she would be able to tell us something of him by way of Dr. Wigram's letters; we are most anxiously looking forward to the answer.

The hospitals which are endowed by great Russia to help the sick are a great help. Now the people get nursed well, and, of course, the sickness is growing less. But outside the hospitals, although they do get help from Russia (recently some clothes, too), England and America, still their miseries are great, and their living very poor.

I trust and hope you will read the report recently written by Mr. Paul Shimmon. A copy has been sent to Mr. Heazell. It is all quite true, and there you will see our nation's wretchedness. Really, Russia couldn't have done more than she has by helping with hospitals, money and clothes.

Now the Russian Government wants us all to go up to Bashkala ---the people to be provided with oxen and wheat to be able to plough land for themselves. Of course, Mar Shimun is quite willing to make the people do what they are ordered, and what is best for them. It really is a very good thing, but I am much afraid it won't come to pass, for two reasons---first, the difficulty of finding enough oxen and corn, and, secondly, because it is getting too late for sowing. Soon after Easter Mar Shimun intends to go to Khoi and talk the plan over with General Tchournazoukov.

I wanted very much to go to England, but Mrs. Wigram wrote to me that my friends didn't think it advisable. I don't understand well what you say in your letter about directing to me through Mr. Shipley. If it is anything to help the poor, it is most welcome.

One can't help longing to read the London Times and the Church Times, especially the Bishop of London's sermons. What will be the end ? Is the world being refined ? Who will endure to the last ? We can only pray for mercy. Its will be done. My heart is yearning to hear that "England has conquered " ; pray God it will prove so-although one does feel for all the young men's lives, whether friend or foe, no difference, and for the world's misery.

Last October David and I went down to Urmia and stayed with dear Mr. Nisan. His house seemed to me quite desolate with no Beatrice or her mother, but he was the same, cheering and helping others. His daughter-in-law Nanajan is very nice, and, with her little dear boy, she will be a comfort for his old age. Samuel is still in America; it is rather hard for the young wife. I have twice written to Mr. Nisan to send service books, which he kindly sent. We often wonder what our church would have done if it were not for English printing presses ? Nearly all our church books are gone. Mar Shimun has consecrated little tablets, and nearly every priest in Diliman has one to celebrate on for the people; it is the same in Urmia and Khoi.

You will like to hear that David, Zaya, Paul and Ishaya fought most bravely in Dizan. Twice the Kurds were driven away with twelve killed, and the third time Paul and Zaya alone with four servants fought against the foe and saved the little ammunition they had. I intend to write a report of all that happened (what I saw and heard) in the mountains. But really I can't, as long as I am with ten children playing in the small yard and making as much noise as a herd of the Kurds, poor little kids. I don't think you know that David is father of two boys and four girls, and Romi is mother of three girls and two boys. Are not they old ? The children are as happy as children ought to be, only they are disappointed at not having as many new clothes as they used to have at home, and especially the boys, for they are not going to have any new clothes for Easter as they had theirs at Christmas, and now it is the girls' turn for Easter. The market is another difficulty for them---seeing new toys and sweets (they were free from that in Quodshanis) and with no money to buy them. However, they get used to it, poor dears.

I teach the four boys for two hours a day; they are promising pupils if properly taught. The little girls read their alphabet, too.

Romi and Esther have suffered very much under the circumstances. It was too much for them, although they have gone through it quite bravely, especially Esther, who was with child all this time, and during the last days of flight was expecting the child every hour. However, God was merciful, and the baby girl was born nearly a fortnight after we arrived in Diliman. She is baptised Helena. I am rather uneasy about Esther. She is very weak, and after Easter she will go to Urmia, both to visit her father's house (the Mutran's brother) and see the doctor.

I can't say it was too much for me ; if it were not for certain reasons I should have been rather enjoying the struggle between the Kurds and Turks and us. Thank God we are very well at present, except for being over anxious for our poor nation's misery. The living here is very hard for us ; we simply have no money for our ordinary necessities, and at times we have people coming to our door who can hardly stand on their feet for hunger ; how could one turn them away ?

However, all the world is suffering, and so must we and our nation.

Would you kindly tell Mr. Heazell that Mar Shimun got the £50 which he sent. I never wrote to him that the Mutran was let free by the Turks and has come to Urmia safely, although quite broken and very weak.

I rather enjoy the plan of going up to Bashkala after we have lost our country and home. It will suit us to turn into nomads, like the Israelites---Mar Shimun for Moses; can't make David into Aaron, he has no beard, so dear old Peter for Aaron, with his white beard; I suppose I must be Miriam, and we must take a tent, too, for celebration, which we will call the "Assyrian Tabernacle" ; and very likely we shall always be having skirmishes with the Canaanites to get to our fathers' land. Wouldn't you like to come and see us, the new Israelites

The houses in Bashkala are all ruined.

Mar Shimun sends his blessing to you and Professor Margoliouth, and we our best regards.


There was a general massacre in the Bohtan region, and our helpers, preachers, teachers and Bible-Women, with their families, fell victims to it among the rest. The man who brought the word is known to me personally. This young man tells the story of how, by order of the Government, the Kurds and Turkish soldiers put the Christians of all those villages, including Djeziré, to the sword. Among those slain were Kasha (Pastor) Mattai, pastor of the church in Hassan ; Kasha Elia, one of our oldest and most honoured pastors, recently working as an evangelist ; Kasha Sargis, superannuated; Muallin Mousa, pastor of our church in Djeziré, and his sixteen-year-old son Philip. There are three preachers not heard from, and one of them is probably killed, as his village, Monsoria, was put to the sword; another, Rabi Ishak, is possibly alive, as there is a report that his village had been preserved by the influence of a Kurdish agha. It is to be feared, however, that this agha would not be able to protect them for long, as from every source comes the word that the Government threatened such friendly Kurds with punishment if they did not obey orders. The third man is reported as having fled to Mosul. Whether he reached there or not is not known. The women and children who escaped death were carried away captive. Among these were the families of the above mentioned brethren. The wife and two daughters of Muallin Mousa, the daughters of Kasha Elia, and Rabi Hatoun, our Bible-Woman, were all schoolgirls in Urmia or Mardin. Kasha Mattai was killed by Kurds in the mountain while fleeing. Kasha Elia and Kasha Sargis, with other men of the village of Shakh, were killed by Turkish soldiers who had been stationed in their village by the Government.

The three villages of Hassan, Shakh and Monsoria were Protestant, and it is to be feared that they were wiped out, as were all the other Christian villages of the plain. Many of the women of Monsoria threw themselves into the river (Tigris) to avoid falling into the hands of the Kurds. Mar Yohannan and Mar Akha were still safe at the time my informant fled. The terrible feature about it was that, after the first slaughter, there were Kurds who tried to save some of the Christians alive, but the Government would not permit it. My informant had found refuge with an agha and was working for him, when a messenger from the Government came with orders to the Kurds to complete the work or be punished. Word was brought to my informant in the field, and he with a few others fled to the mountain and made their way to Van, and so came here. The villagers of Attil, where we had work also, all escaped to Van. Their Kurdish agha, who was a warm friend of our preacher and of our work, gave them warning that he would not be able to protect them, as the massacre was being pressed by the Government. It was their pastor who fled to Mosul. His way would take him to Djeziré and Monsoria, the home of his wife. They may have been killed there. There is no word about them.

This terrible calamity grieves me more than I can tell you. And more than those who died, the fate of those carried off into captivity weighs upon me. I think of them so often---Sarah , Hatoun, Priskilla and little Nellie and others, young girls whom I knew in the home almost like my own children. What is their condition ? This word of my informant is confirmed by a woman of Djeziré, who made her escape also to Van and thence hither. She tells us that Sarah and her two daughters were released and were last seen on the plain beyond Djeziré, wandering in a destitute condition.


On Thursday, the 5th August, the rumour spread that the Russian troops were again to be withdrawn from Urmia. This very naturally frightened the entire Christian population, and on Thursday evening all Christians, except those already on the road and those physically unable to be on the road, were in the streets of the city and on the roads leading northward from the city, waiting for the departure of the foot-soldiers, with whom they intended to leave. Knowing the probable fate of any who might stay behind, we were, of course, not ready to discourage the people from going. Still, we had no official word of the anticipated evacuation, and were, therefore, perplexed as to our own duty. The breaking up of a good proportion of our missionary work, the removal of the bulk of the relief work to a different place, and the uncertainty of America's future position all contributed to indicate that a portion at least of the Station should move in case of an evacuation. On Friday morning we learned that the foot-soldiers had left, and one of our men, on visiting the Russian Consul, was told that all who were going should be off by 2 p.m. that day. The Station felt that its force should be reduced to the minimum, and that at least all women and children should leave. Very hasty preparations were made. Mr. McDowell, Mr. Labaree and Dr. Packard volunteered to stay in Urmia, and all the rest were to leave. When we got on the road, however, we found that Mrs. Packard and her children and Miss Burgess were not of the party. Mrs. Packard had decided to brave the Station vote and stay by her husband, and Miss Burgess stayed to be with Mrs. Packard and to assist the medical work. The fugitive party, therefore, consisted of Dr. Shedd and his two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Allen with their two sons and one daughter, Dr. and Mrs. Coan, Mrs. Cochran, Miss Lewis, Miss Lamme, Miss Schoebel, and Mrs. Müller and myself with our daughter. We went in carriages, using some donkeys and horses bought the last two hours before our departure.

At the end of our second day's journey we reached a village Kudchi, where we found perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 Syrian refugees, whose further flight had been arrested by the Russian commanding officer with the good news that a decisive victory had made the evacuation of Urmia unnecessary. All were told to go back. Unless the missionaries would return , however, the natives were unwilling to trust themselves alone. Nothing was left but for some to return, especially since this was requested by the officer in command of the troops there. Dr. Shedd and his daughters, Mrs. Cochran and Dr. and Mrs. Coan consequently turned back.

This gave the crowd heart and they, too, went back. But the tables were soon turned again, and before the foot-sore crowd reached the city they were again turned back with the word that there was fighting with the Kurds on Mount Seir. The missionaries had reached the city and were there during the fighting on Mount Seir. It seemed advisable for them to leave again, as conditions were very uncertain, in spite of the fact that the Russian Consul with a number of Cossacks had stayed by his post during all this time. They, that is Dr. Shedd and his two daughters, and Dr. and Mrs. Coan, left for the second time on Friday the 13th August. This time Mrs. Cochran stayed behind.

Meanwhile, those of us who had continued on our journey from Kudchi arrived in Tabriz on Friday the 13th August, after a journey free from mishaps, but nevertheless wearing for us who were still typhoid and typhus convalescents. Every one in the party with the exception of Mrs. Allen and the Allen children had recently had the fever.


As a native of Urmia and myself a refugee who has fallen into great trouble, I am writing a few short details about my unfortunate nation. For centuries as Christians we. have been crushed by the enemies that surround us. Our best looking girls have been forced to deny their creed; our men have been killed, our homes plundered, and our property has been robbed.

In all these troubles we lived under the Persian Government, and obeyed their rules ; we have never been untrue to them, or disobedient. For the past seventy years the only help we have had has come through the English and American Missions that have been in Urmia. When the Russians arrived at Urmia it was a delight to us, we thought our rights would be more clearly established ; of course, things were much better than before ; all the country was safer than it ever had been. This was like a dream for a few years ; all of a sudden, when this terrible war began, we felt almost certain that it would harm us, although we never dreamed that it would bring us under such a curse.

In the cold January, when even the beasts do not wish to go out from their caves, the people were left homeless, bleeding, impoverished and starving. This all happened when the Russian forces withdrew from Urmia ; very many left their beloved and comfortable homes, and started with them on an endless journey, which caused the death of many dear souls from cold and hunger. The rest of the Christians crowded into the American Mission compounds, with nothing left; here they were fed on a morsel of bread which came through the kindness of the Missionaries. There is a great deal to tell of the misery of the people during the last winter; it was a life too wretched for humanity. Those that were used to comfortable beds now slept on the bare ground. For five months of captivity we lived expecting death every minute, surrounded by sick people who needed help ; our little children died of measles ; our young and strong ones could not stand the terrible epidemics of typhoid and typhus, while the elderly people could not live such a hard life ; they died in the first weeks, of dysentery. Now the villages were plundered and mostly burned, a good many people killed, and our little girls and women wickedly tortured (very many even now have not been found; they were mercilessly carried into captivity); through all this long time of anxiety and expectation, during which our time was given to weeping, we prayed that God would once more save us by sending the Russians to our rescue.

It was a great relief when we heard that the Russians, for their own interests, were coming to Urmia once more. After their coming the people were at liberty, and were able to go out into the country once more. For three months they tried to live in the villages, though a very poor and wretched life it was, with everything gone and most of the buildings burned. In these hard times we were thankful to the American Missionaries and the Russian Consul who helped us in settling down. Although at this time we did not do any evil to our enemies who had treated us so unkindly, we heard them say that if once more the Russian army should leave Urmia, no Christian would be safe.

On the 4th August the peasants crowded into the city of Urmia ; they had heard indirectly about the armies leaving. It was a sight that could not be described. The sick, helpless little children were terrified. All night and the next day the road that led towards the Russian border was full of refugees, although the Consul assured us that he would not leave without warning us ; but the fear was so great that nothing could keep us back.

In the first invasion of Urmia(61) some of those that dwelt inside the city gates were in more security than the villagers, although they were fined a great deal and suffered many hardships and losses of property, and there had been deaths in almost every home; but this second attack meant that we must leave all and flee. On Friday morning, with sober face and heavy heart, I left my dear home. I am grateful to God that until now my home had not been robbed, so that it was very hard for me to leave its comfort and start out into the world with no hope of returning again. With many other comrades in the same plight, we began our dreadful journey. For two families we had a little cart in which we put a few necessary coverings, a little bread, and my three little children. It was very hard for us to leave our property, but life is dearer than all the riches of the world.

On the way we met all classes of people, the rich and poor were reduced to the same level; very few had carriages, because our neighbours would not hire us any, some had horses and donkeys, but the majority had to walk with great bundles on their backs. We were quite unused to such a hard journey; some sat on the roadside and wept from sore feet; it was hard to walk in shoes, and without shoes the sun burned them until the blood came; dear, innocent children died on the way; it broke the parents' hearts to part with them; old and feeble men and women were left behind; little unlucky babies were born in the sight of the passers-by; everyone was in need of help, but no help could be found. We were like the Israelites scattered in the desert, only they had Moses to conduct them to Canaan, while we had no one.

The first night we were so tired and exhausted that we stopped in a place that had very little water, a dry, dusty place ; our bed was the ground, our pillow a stone, the sky our quilt. The little excited children cried all night ; large crowds of people were coming all night ; while some rested and went on, others from behind took their place. The next day we were so tired and hopeless that we wished we had died at home and had not started on such an endless and aimless pilgrimage.

It broke my heart when I met a little girl; her feet were sore and she could walk no further. She cried, "Oh mother! Oh, God!" The mother had a heavy load and could not carry the child, the father was killed, they had no friends. I carried the little girl on my back for about half-a-mile, but could not any further. It was too heart-breaking. Why should innocent children suffer so ?

Our next stop was a better place; it had splendid, cool water, and shade; but the people were so many that bread was scarce, starvation was upon us. A great many were sick by this time and could not move. This was a Moslem town ; they did not like to have us there, but they could not turn us out on account of the Russian soldiers being near. There were Christian villages on our way, but by this time. they had all been destroyed. Here we stopped a few days. We heard that the Cossacks had not left Urmia entirely; they had moved their headquarters a few miles, so that we had hope that we would not lose all. From here some of us went to Tabriz, which is a larger city, and a little safer than other places. Now we are a nation scattered like the flock without a shepherd, some living here and some there, a miserable existence. Some have gone back to Urmia; most of them have found all their crops gone. If we had not left Urmia this second time, our condition would not be so hard as it is now, the places near the city having mostly been kept safe by the kindness of the Russian Consul, who did not leave Urmia; but in the more distant places the crops and vineyards have all been destroyed. We are more than grateful to the Americans, who have ransomed our lives from death by the money that has been spent for us the last winter. We hope and pray for the victory of the Allies, that through their kindness the rest of us might live. So far one-third of our nation has perished, and even we who survive are so broken by the strain we have suffered that sometimes we are hopeless. Now we are facing a winter of famine and wretchedness, homes without bedding and clothes. Of course nobody can supply all our needs. In addition to our own trouble, our countrymen from Turkey are taking refuge in the Urmia district, and their condition is worse than ours.


At the beginning of June, 1915, when the people emerged from our premises emaciated from sickness and malnutrition and crushed by the blow that had fallen upon them, they were confronted by a seemingly hopeless situation. Practically all their household furnishings and food supplies had been plundered; the same was true of their domestic animals, on which they depended in large measure for their subsistence. Their houses were without any doors and windows, and probably a full third of them had been demolished. They were in terror about going back to their villages; they feared their Moslem neighbours, who had despoiled them of their property, outraged their wives and daughters, and killed many of their relatives; they feared, too, lest the Russian troops might again withdraw and leave them to the mercy of their enemies ; and they were anxious lest the missionaries who had sheltered them for the previous months might forget them when they were out of sight. Everything tended to make them cling to our Mission compounds or their vicinity. To permit them to do this was of course out of the question. Our efforts, however, to scatter them to their village homes formed one of the most pitiful phases of our relief work. The people had to go, but as long as they received their bread from our yards they would not; and so we had no choice but to cut off the food supply, after giving each family sufficient flour to support them a week. At the same time, with the help of the newly arrived Russian Consul, pressure was brought to bear upon the landlords of the Christian villages to support their tenants until harvest. Some of these could not, because they themselves had been plundered ; others would not, in spite of Consular pressure ; and others promised to give the needed assistance, but delayed it from day to day with all the ingenuity of excuse for which the Orient is notorious. The result was that our yards were thronged daily with hundreds of people clamouring for food. To give way would have nullified all our efforts to get the people on to their own feet; and only when it was absolutely clear that nothing could be gotten from the landlords of any one village did we assume any degree of support for the people of the village. Little by little progress was made, and although the villagers were wretchedly miserable, the approaching harvest made subsistence by their own effort possible, and virtually all food distribution ceased for a period of three months.

There was another form of relief, however, that was imperative. In the vast majority of villages there was not a spade to use in repairing their houses, in ridding their vineyards of weeds or in burying their dead, and there was not a scythe or sickle with which to reap their harvest. The best and surest way to help the people was to give them these implements, and so for upwards of a month we virtually subsidised all the blacksmiths of the city in our endeavour to get these instruments in time for the harvest. When we closed this department of our relief work, we had distributed 2,661 scythes and sickles and 1,129 spades at a cost of 18,909.90 krans. (The exchange value of a silver kran is approximately 4 1/2d.)

By the beginning of August the situation was considerably more hopeful. The people with Consular help had succeeded in collecting a good deal of their plundered property, including bedding, household utensils and a few cattle ; the harvest was good, although the acreage was below the average, and the promise of the vineyards was excellent. Then fell another blow, what seemed an inexplicable Providence. Events in another section of the war necessitated orders for a sudden withdrawal of the Russian troops, and the evacuation was actually carried out with the exception of a small force which remained with the Consul on the hills outside the city. With the going of their protectors the whole Christian population of the plain, with the exception of some 200 sick and aged who again took refuge in the Mission yards, fled, some only to the northern edge of the plain, but many to Salmas and Khoi and even Djoulfa. Fortunately it was summer time, but even so the misery was intense, and cholera and want and hardship claimed many victims in those few weeks. Worse still, much that the people had reclaimed of their stolen property and gathered from their fields was taken once more by their Moslem neighbours ; and so, after nearly a month of miserable hardship and uncertainty, the poor Syrians and Armenians returned to their twice plundered homes. Very little relief, however, was given during the next few weeks ; for from the fields and vineyards much could still be secured in the way of food.

At this time we calculated that about 10,000 to 15,000 of the Christian inhabitants would have to be supported during the winter months, and we were making our plans accordingly, when a new and overwhelming burden descended upon us. For months the Syrians of Kurdistan had been holding their own in their mountain fastnesses, hoping for succour from the Russians. When this failed and their enemies increased on every hand, they had to flee---many, many perishing in the attempt. Some 30,000 of them arrived at last in Salmas and the neighbourhood in almost absolute destitution. A few succeeded in bringing a part of their sheep, but most came with nothing, half-naked, and without any means of livelihood. This army of wretchedness was halted by the authorities on the plain of Salmas and on the hills surrounding it, until their location should be determined upon. Mr. McDowell of our Relief Committee, who has had years of experience among these people, left at once for Salmas and grappled with the serious problem of their immediate relief. But for the assistance given by our Committee there, hundreds of them would have perished from hunger. As, it was, cholera, typhoid and pneumonia did their worst among a people wasted by hardship, unprotected from the cold and without shelter. Shortly the streams of suffering humanity began to pour across the pass that separates the Salmas from the Urmia plain, and to scatter themselves in the villages of this section. A few weeks before we had been wondering how the inhabitants of the plain would find shelter for themselves in their half-ruined villages; but from the accompanying statistical report(62) it will be seen that they have made room for nearly 16,000 refugees from other districts. For example, the village of Geogtapa has doubled its population, having received as many of these guests as it had inhabitants of its own.

About the middle of October we began to take steps in preparation for our winter relief work. The first thing was to buy up all supplies of wheat that we could secure while the price was low---the lowest for years, for the purchasers were few and the owners anxious to turn their crops into cash before any more untoward events might transpire. The wheat thus secured was stored in different parts of the plain accessible as distributing centres. The doing of this required quite a force of reliable men, who could act as wheat buyers and weighers.

The next step was to get accurate lists of the actually destitute in every village. This was no easy task, for many felt themselves entitled to assistance who were not wholly destitute, and to discover who were really in want, among the hundreds of poverty-stricken, plundered inhabitants of each village, required both tact and firmness. The task was made doubly hard by the constant stream of new arrivals from Salmas. On the basis of these lists tickets were issued for bedding and for food---the two most crying needs.

For bedding it was decided to issue large wool quilts, large enough to cover several persons. These we found could be made for three or three and a half tomans (12s.) per quilt. Under the efficient direction of Miss Lewis, and later of Miss Lamme, a quilt factory was started, which in time employed over a hundred needy women in carding wool and sewing the quilts. This factory during its three months' existence consumed over 84,000 yards of calico, 35,000 pounds of wool, and some 1,500 pounds of cotton, and expended over 18,000 tomans ; it taxed the resources of the dry goods merchants to supply our demand and it quite exhausted the wool supplies of the city. Our plan was to give only one quilt to four persons, families of over four to receive two or more according to the number of members ; but after the issue of tickets we found that we could not possibly supply the need, and so regretfully we had to limit our giving to one quilt to a family. The inadequacy of this relief was seen when we began to distribute to the families of mountaineers ; for with them all the brothers and their wives and children form one family, and it was not uncommon to have families of over 20, one being as high as 35. But in spite of their inadequacy, the 5,510 quilts issued have saved the lives of many, for literally thousands were facing the rigours of winter without any bedding whatever.

Our wheat distribution, too, had to be of the most economical nature. We issued what was supposed to be a two months' supply at one time, giving a Russian pood and a half per capita for this period, that is, about 50 pounds. To the widows and orphans and to the new comers from the mountains we gave flour instead of wheat, the actual cost of this assistance in food at current prices being two and a half shahis per day to a person, or between a half-penny and three-farthings. But even with this small gratuity, the total amount given of wheat and flour was 4,000 poods, or about 140,000 pounds, costing about the same as the quilts, that is, about 18,000 tomans.

With these small gifts to individuals amounting in the aggregate to large figures, and with the similar work that has been done in Salmas and Khoi, and even for the district of Albek, our funds have been exhausted, and we are waiting now to see what the generosity of America will do about it. Had it not been for this generosity, many would have died of hunger and cold the last two months, for, apart from what our Committee has done, very little has reached the people from any other source. We are grateful indeed to acknowledge the receipt of considerable sums from his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Syrian refugees from the mountains, but still the largest part has come and must come from America. We shall have to look to our friends in America for their continued aid, if this unfortunate people, the victims of Mohammedan hate, are to be kept this winter and established in their homes once more.


In the October of last year I came to Diliman on the plain of Salmas in north-west Persia. I had been in Urmia during September and had seen the condition of the Assyrians (mostly Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) in the low country round that lake. The American missionaries of Urmia were doing a great deal, and on the whole the condition of the country was not so very bad. There was housing accommodation and a good deal of corn, and it seemed as if the Americans would keep the situation in hand. But in Salmas there was a very different state of affairs. At the end of September, 25,000 mountain Nestorians from the Tkhuma, Baz and Tiari regions, who had been fighting with the Kurds all summer and had had to flee for lack of ammunition, came pouring into the plain led by their Patriarch, Mar Shimun, and began to plant themselves down in the orchards and gardens round the villages. All the villages of the plain were already occupied, and, as the winter was just setting in, their condition without housing, food and clothing was desperate. I sent a message to Mr. Shipley, the British Consul at Tabriz, telling him of the situation, and he telegraphed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for financial assistance. Meanwhile relief committees were organised under the Russian Consul Akimovitch, the Armenian Bishop Nerses, who lent funds from the Armenians of the Caucasus, and an American Missionary from Urmia, Mr. McDowell, with funds from America, and they began to organise relief during November and December. The method adopted was to distribute to all the refugees, Armenian, and Assyrians alike, a daily allowance of 10 kopecks a day, since increased to 15 kopecks, and to distribute warm quilts and coats from materials purchased in the bazaars of Diliman and Khoi. Some medical detachments of the Russian Red Cross and Soyus Gorodof were sent with medical aid to combat typhus and dysentery, which was beginning to and still is taking many in toll of the refugees. As regards the. medical side of the relief, I am inclined to doubt the possibility of making effective provision under the circumstances. There are not sufficient skilled doctors, and it is impossible to get drugs through from the Caucasus in sufficient quantity to do much good.

I did not observe on my return to Salmas after a journey to Van in November any real improvement in the health of the refugees. Every day a hundred or more Assyrians and Armenians were dying in the villages round Diliman, and the same thing is going on now.

It seems to me (and these friends of mine, who have also been there and have seen the conditions, agree with me), that it is impossible under the circumstances to combat the disease by medical assistance. The hardy mountaineers from the headwaters of the Great Zab and Tigris can best be helped by giving them the means to resist disease. Once disease has hold of them, no half measures of medical relief can help. I am therefore strongly of opinion that, if more relief is sent, it should take the form of money, which should go to increase the daily allowances of the refugees, enabling them to buy for themselves, from the Persians of Diliman, food and clothing, which alone will enable them to resist disease.

The position is now as follows. When I left Diliman for Van at the end of October, I saw in the regions round Bashkalé another 5,000 or 6,000 Assyrian and a sprinkling of Armenians living in caves of the rocks or in the open, and feeding on raw grains of wheat, which they were picking from the ruined corn-fields. On my return in January most of these were in Salmas, and so I think about 30,000 Assyrian and Armenian refugees are now there---that is, after deducting 15 per cent. as loss from disease in the last three months. The Russian and American relief organisations which are working there of course stand in need of more money to carry on their work effectively. In order to save the refugees from starving, doles of money must be given out to them till next harvest at least. I should certainly think that the Americans, whose committee is centred in Tabriz, under the American Consul there, are doing the best work with the means at their disposal. With the Russian organisation there is more delay and greater leakage. Relief is being given impartially by the Americans to Assyrians and Armenians of all denominations. This cannot always be guaranteed for the Russian organisation.

I would therefore strongly appeal for further help for the distressed refugees of this ancient Assyrian Church, together with their brethren of the Armenian Gregorian, Catholic and Protestant faiths, and should suggest that it be sent to the British Consul at Tabriz to distribute with the American missionaries in the form of increased daily allowances for food and clothing.

V. The Refugees in the Caucasus

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