The Armenians in Persia

[The Outlook; August 18, 1915]

’We have been so accustomed to thinking of the Armenians as resident only in Turkey that we often lose sight of the fact that they also live in Russia and in Persia. The news which comes to hand from Persia is as ghastly in its detail as that which has been received from Asia Minor. The city of Salmast, for instance, has been completely destroyed by the Kurds. One of the survivors writes:

Hundreds of old people and children remained behind in the ill-omened "Valley of Blood," unable to reach Duzlac. Those who could go on tottered as they walked. Here a dozen women and children, buried in a chasm of snow, were crying out for help. There a cart had been upset into a deep ravine with all its passengers and animals. One woman, unable to walk further, fell on the snow and gave birth to a child. A few yards away, another, made insane by suffering, leaped over a cliff, at the bottom of which hungry wolves were whining. Such scenes were repeated all along the route. I saw one woman, whose husband had just been killed, walking with all her clothes frozen, one child in her arms, another on her back, and the oldest walking by her side. A sick woman was telling how her husband and children had been butchered before her eyes. She begged to be killed too, but instead she was subjected to treatment worse than death. The wailing of the children, women, and old people was heart-rending. Many of the refugees were swept away in trying to cross the streams, and dead bodies by hundreds lined the road.

Again, near Urumia, where Americans have a most efficient hospital and mission, four thousand Armenians were killed outright. Crowds of men, women, and children took refuge in the churches, but these were burned down and the poor refugees slaughtered like trapped rats. Nor was this the worst. For many days the fields around Salmast and Urumia were strewn with dead bodies, for no kindred or friends were left to give them interment. The marauders allowed them to fester and rot on the open ground. No wonder that from the Azerbajan Province of Persia alone there has been an exodus of some twoscore thousand into Russia.

The time is thus indeed ripe for the friends of the Armenians to show whether they mean anything by their friendship. An American Armenian Relief Fund has been established under the direction of such men as Bishops Greer and Rhinelander, the Rev. Dr. James L. Barton, Rabbi Harris, ex-President Eliot, and Mr. Oscar Straus. The treasurers are Messrs. Brown Brothers & Co. Bankers, 59 Wall Street, New York City, who will transmit all funds in equal parts to the head of the Armenian Church at Etchmiadzin, and to Mr. W. W. Peet, treasurer of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Constantinople. The Armenian colonists, especially in the United States and in other parts of the world, have already sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to relieve their people, but the misery needs the help of all friends of the Armenians as well.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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