« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
(Inclosure 5 in No. 98.]
Mr. Lowell to Earl Granville.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, December 11, 1860. MY LORD: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your lordship's note of yesterday, iuclosing the copy of a telegram which has just been received from Her Majesty's representative at Teheran, in relation to the case of the American missionaries at Oroomiah, and I beg to express my cordial thanks for the prompt courtesy with which your lordship has been kind enough to accede to the wishes of my government in this matter. I have, &c.,
J. R. LOWELL.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Evarts.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 13, 1880. (Received December 27.) SIR: I have the honor to forward herewith the copy of a further communication and its inclosure received by me from Lord Granville since my last dispatch was written in relation to the position of the American missionaries at Oroomiah, in Persia. I have, &c.,
J. R. LOWELL,
(Inclosure 1 in No. 99.)
Earl Granville to Mr. Lowell.
FOREIGN OFFICE, December 11, 1880. Earl Granville presents his compliments to Mr. Lowell, and with reference to his letter of yesterday's date, has the honor to transmit a copy of a telegram received this day from Her Majesty's consul-general at Tabreez, through Her Majesty's minister at Teheran, relative to the position of the American missionaries åt Oroomiah.
(Inclosure 2 in No. 99.1
Have received a telegram, dated 10th instant, from Mr. Abbott, as follows: “Most recent information in letters from American missionaries is to the effect that they are on cordial terms with Persian authorities at Oroomiah; the reports concerning them much exaggerated.” When I received your telegram to-day, I called upon foreign office agent. He said he would address heir apparent on the subject, and promised to cause Sepeh Salar, who was thought to be already at Oroomiah, to be instructed in the matter by special messenger.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Evarts.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 14, 1880. (Received December 27.) SIR: Since my last communication to you in relation to the American missionaries at Öroomiah (No. 99, December 13, 1880), I have received
a further note from Lord Granville upon this subject, a copy of which, together with the printed matter which accompanied it, I herewith inclose for your confidential information. I have, &c.,
J. R. LOWELL.
(Inclosure 1 in No. 102.)
Earl Granville to Mr. Lowell.
FOREIGN OFFICE, December 10, 1880. Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 7th instant requesting that instructions might be sent to Her Majesty's representative in Persia to use his good offices for the protection of the American missionaries and their families, resident at Oroomiah, who, it is feared, are in some dauger owing to their being falsely accused of complicity with the Kurdish chief Sheik Abdullah.
I have had much pleasure in complying with the wishes of the United States Government in this matter, and, for their confidential information, I have the honor to inclose printed copies of sove reports recently received at this office from Mr. Abbott, Her Majesty's consul at Tabreez, who, under instructions from Her Majesty's Government, proceeded to Oroomiah in the month or October to inquire into the condition of the Nestorian Christians of that district, and was at that place at the time of the Kurdish invasion. I have, &c.,
(Inclosure 2 in No. 102.)
Consul-General Abbott to Earl Granville.
TABREEZ, November 11, 1880. (Received December 4.) MY LORD: I have the honor to transınit herewith to your lordship my report upon the condition of the Nestorian Christians of Oroomiah, resulting from investigations held by me during my recent visit to that district, and trust that it will meet with your lordship's approval. I have, &c,
WILLIAM G. ABBOTT.
(Inclosure 2 in No. 102.)
Report by Consul-General Abbott upon the condition of the Nestorian Christians of Oroomiah.
In order to form a true and impartial opinion of the position in which the Nestorians are placed, it seems indispensable to inquire carefully into the relations existing between Christian tenants and Mussulman landlords, as well as into the mode employed for the collectiou of the taxes, and to draw a comparison between the state of things under which the two races respectively live.
By these means I have endeavored to arrive at an accurate judgment regarding the alleged grievances which form the subject of Pastor Yacob's petition to Her Majesty the Queen, copies of which, and of its inclosure, have been forwarded to me by Her Majesty's minister at Teheran.
The plain of Oroomiah, in which the town of that name is situated, stretches about 50 miles north and south. It is bordered on the east by a salt lake 200 miles in circumference, and is thickly dotted over with about 2,020 villages, of which it is computed that 120 are peopled by Nestorian Christians, and the remainder by Mussul. many.. The majority of the latter are Shiahs, but there is also a considerable sprinkling of villages on the plain inhabited by Kurds of the Sunni persuasion.
The three principal rivers, which rise in the mountains, water the plain, and discharge themselves into the lake, are the Chehr Tchai, the Barandooz Tchai, and the Nazloo Tchai. Fertile and well wooded, the plain of Oroomiah must in spring well deserve the appellation it bas acquired, the "Paradise of Persia."
The landlords, or masters of villages, are principally members of the Afishar tribe, and belong to the Shiah persuasion.
The system of taxation in some villages is styled “gural," the literal signification of which is see and take.” The imposts under this head are: house-tax for Mussul. mans, 5 krans= 48. 2d.; the same for Christians, 8 krans=68. 8d. ; tax on live-stock, paid in equal shares by Mussulmans and Christians, as follows: buffalo, 3 krans=28. 6d.; cow, 1.10 krans = 18. 3d.; mare, 3 krans =28. 6d. ; sheep, 10 shahis = 5d.; donkey, 1.10ʻkrans 18. 3d. In addition to this all Christian males above the age of fifteen pay a poll-tax in lieu of military service amounting to 5 krans = 48. 2d. per annum.
With reference to the above I am unable to see upon what principle of justice Christians pay 3 krans more than Mussulmans for house-tax.
With regard to the relations in which tenauts and landlords stand respectively to one another, it appears that the former, whether Mussulmans or Christian, are subjected to the same system. The landlord is responsible to the government for the collection of the taxes, paid either in money or kind, for wbich every village is assessed; the fixed amount claimed annually being entered in the government reg. ister. The tenant, on the other hand, is responsible for the due discharge of the im. posts to the landlord, upon whose individual character it wholly depends whether a system which in principle seems equitable enough be converted into an instrument of oppression.
In the immediate vicinity of the American college in which I resided there were two villages, one Mussulman the other Christian, each containing about fifteen houses, and both under the same landlord. I thought that the system employed in this instance would be a fair criterion of that which prevailed throughout the Oroomiah plain. In both these villages the landlord provided the seed for sowing the crops, of which he took (1) shares and the tenants one. The annual produce was about 50 khewars of wheat. The government imposts amounted to 5 krans per khewar. The total taxes would therefore be 25 tomans per annum. Putting the population at 75 souls, 5 to each house, the annua Itax would amount individually to 3 tomans, equal to 11. 58. Seeing that in this case Mussulmans and Christians were subjected to an analogous system, I took great pains to ascertain whether the former were specially favored in any way to the detriment of the latter. The result of my investigations was that instances occurred in which the Mussulman landlord favored his coreligionists in this wise: Instead of keeping literally to the terms of the arrangement regarding the distribution of seed explained above, he sometimes allowed the Mussulman tenants to sow a few acres of land with their own seed, and to appropriate two shares of the crop; whereas a similar indulgence was never shown to the Nestorians, who were held strictly to the letter of the law.
I visited successively several villages on the Oroomiah plain, inhabited, some exclusively by Christians, others by Mussulmans. The Christian peasantry generally appeared to me to be the more prosperous, but, being considerable in the minority, they were less able to make a successful stand against an oppressive landlord than their Mussulman neighbors.
Hearing that at the village of Ardeshai, which belongs to the crown domains and is under the “gural” system, the taxes were being levied in a most arbitrary manner, I made a friendly remonstrance to the governor of Oroomiah, who promptly called the master of the village to account, and issued stringent orders to prevent a recurrence of the abuses in question.
At Geok-Tépé, one of the most thriving villages on the plain, I received the holy communion on Sunday morning in the Nestorian church. A large congregation of Nestorians, men, women, and children, communed at the same service. In the afternoon I attended divine service at the chapel built by the American missionaries of the Presbyterian persuasion. After both services I addressed the people in Turkish, assuring them of the deep interest which Her Majesty the Queen personally took in
their welfare as fellow Christians, and whilst exhorting them to fulfil their duties as + loyal subjects of the Shah, I explained to them that, owing to the friendship existing
between Persia and England, the sovereign of the latter country had recently contributed a munificent donation for the relief of distress cansed by the famine.
In some of the villages on the Nazloo Tchai I regret to say that the landlords resort largely to forced labor for the cultivation of their vineyards and rice fields. The laborers, recruited from both Mussulmans and Christians, receive, I understand, no pecuniary remuneration and rarely a morsel of food for their services, besides which complaints reached me that they were frequently beaten with much cruelty by their task-masters. It appears that more Christians than Mussulmans are pressed into this service, and it would be advisable for the system to be entirely abolished.
Notwithstanding the terrible famine which has desolated the country, it does not appear that the government have remitted any of the taxes. In this respect the same evil weighed upon Mussulmans and Christians alike; but the former have been undoubtedly the greater sufferers by the famine, because no internal organizations existed in their community for the relief of distress, whereas the Nestorians, acting upon the suggestions of the American missionaries, formed relief committees, even before funds were sent from England and the United States. By this means the
Christians were in large numbers rescued from starvation. They helped one another till their resources were completely exhausted: but the inhabitants of many Persian and Kurdish villages became, in some instances, wholly extinct, while in others the entire male population died off, leaving numbers of widows and children utterly destitute.
The oppressive system sometimes iesorted to for the collection of the taxes, iu cases where the master of the village happens to be a man of unscrupulous character, and the corruption of the sources of justice, are evils which form the common heritage of Mahommedans and Christians alike; as the result of class prejudices Christians are unable to bring their produce for sale to market, Mussulmans refusing to buy it; in consequence of their being the inhabitants of the unsettled border land between two weak, ill-governed states, the citizens of Oroomiah and the whole population of its plain are liable to incessant Kurdish raids, which render life and property more insecure than in any other part of the empire. It would be difficult to apply any permanent remedies for this unhappy condition of things. Time, the laws of nature, political changes, can alone work a radical cure.
But there is another class of grievances which appears to admit of redress, and foremost amongst these I may.cite the law of "Djeddeed-ul-Islam.”. By the provisions of this law, if one member of a Christian family embrace Islamism he or she becomes entitled to the property of the family, and by the word “family” not only father and mother, but collateral branches are included. It is seldom that a Christian apostatizes under this temptation, but it is not wncoinmon for an enterprising young Mussulman to seduce or forcibly abduct a Christian girl of well to do family, to declare that she has become a Mussulman, and to claim the property of her family. If the girl has not deserted her religion, it is perfectly easy to get another girl to personate her-she can only be produced in court veiled. Cases have occurred in which families have been deprived of their property in this way.
The abolition of this intolerable law-which is an insult to our common faith, offers a premium to crime, and violates every principle of justice, Divine and buman-might be urged upon the Persian Government under the considération that its further continuance would produce a most unfavorable impression in Europe, and that it would be advisable for Persia to extirpate so shameful an abuse before external pressure be put upon her to effect its removal.
In fairness to the Persian Government I think it right to add that when cases of forcible abduction are brought under their notice they are ready to afford redress. The parties who obstruct the course of justice are not Persian officials, but Persian priests.
I have had two cases of this kind to deal with within the last two years. In both instances the girl was restored to her parents, and the culprits punished. The last case occurred a few months ago, and was still pending when I left Tabreez for Oroomniah. On arriving there I learned that the culprit, Hamid Sultan, in consequence of the representations made by Her Majesty's minister and myself, had expiated his offense with three weeks imprisonment and a heavy fine. In order to make the punishment more complete the governor of Oroomiah, at my request, exacted a written guarantee from the ottender, binding him, under severe penalties, to behave with propriety in future,
The testimony of a Christian in this country is not received in a court of justice against a Mussulman, any more than it is in Turkey; but Turkey has at any rate admitted in principle, by the promulgation of various imperial batts, that there is to be no difference in this respect between the two races; and the European powers have thus a solid basis to work upon, by which they are fully entitled to demand as a right the complete religious and civil emancipation of all the Christian populations in the dominions of the Sultan. It might be advisable to consider whether in this respect the initiative could not also be taken in Persia by representing to the government of the Shah the desirability of their issuing firmans granting to Christians and Jews the same status and privileges as those which the dominant race enjoys. I do not suppose that such orders would be at all times scrupulously carried out, but the voice of England would carry greater weight when we distinctly demanded as a right the cessation of abuses against which we are only able at present to speak in the feeble accents of friendly warning or mild remonstrance.
The Nestorians, as already stated, pay a special poll-tax which exempts them from service in the army; but the authorities have begun lately to compel them to serve as musicians in the military bands. They regard with antipathy this system, which places them in close contact with the Mussulman soldiery, by whom they are liable to be treated with brutality and contempt, and would be grateful for a complete exemption in this respect.
It is customary for the Nestoriads to resort every year in large numbers to Russia. Some of them obtain work at Tiflis, or in other parts of the Caucasus, as day laborers and artisans; others confine themselves purely to begging, visiting Moscow and Petersburgh for that purpose. There is probably no race in the world who are more
persistent mendicants, and they appear to do a thriving busi less in this respect. It is compnted 5,000 Nestorians annually visit Russia; that fron 300 to 500 go there for begging purposes, and the remainder to seek for work; that the annual income derived from the former source represents on an average £4,0 10, and from the latter £100,000.
The Nestorians are, however, relieved of a large portion of their gains in Persian territory on their return journeys. The authorities on the Persian frontier, the Kurds, the government guards, placed ostensibly check brigandage but who resort to acts of lawlessness to gain their bread, have lately fleeced these u fortunate people in a most unmerciful niarner.
In justice to the Azerbijan authorities, I must, however, sta te that they are invariably ready to redress these abuses committed by their sul ordinates, when com. plaints are made on the subject, and that his royal highness the Veli Ahd has taken most energetic measures to prevent a recurrence of snch proceedings. Only last year, on my representing a flagrant case of this kind, he dismissed the passport official who was principally implicated, and restored to the Nestorians the bulk of the property they had lost.
Although it will be seen from the above that the condition of the Nestorians leaves much to be desired, there can be no doubt that it has considerably improved of late years. In making this statement, I am fully borne out both by the American missionaries and by the Nestorians themselves. Persian officials are as a rule remarkably tolerant, and never molest the Christians in the exercise of their religion.
The influence deservedly acquired in the country by the American missionaries who have now labored amongst the Nestorians for forty years, affords them snfficient protection in trivial cases of oppression. When serious ones occnr, the missionaries report them to me, and I have always found the Persian authorities ready to afford redress. În matters of special difficulty, I have recourse to the assistance of Her Majesty's minister at Teheran, and by these means have never failed to obtain the desired result.
I do not think that any advantage would be derived by appointing a British consular officer at Oroomiah. Were such a course adopted, Russia would immediately follow our example, and we should soon see the Nestorians split into two factions—the one invoking English, the other Russian, protection. Such has been the case, I am informed, at Van amongst the mountain Nestorians.
The moral and material improvement every year more apparent amongst the Nestorians of Oroomiah is mainly due to the efforts of the American missionaries. In every Nestorian village the missionaries have a place of worship and a school with its pastor and teacher. The mission buildings outside the town, including a college, a hospital, and dwelling-houses, inclosed 15 acres of ground, are fine massive structures, and standing testimonios of the tolerance of the Persian Government. The Nestorians of the rising generation are receiving a sound education, both religious and secular, and learn. ing to read and speak in the Anglo-Saxon tongue.
Christianity, diffusing its many blessings throughout these regions, affords the best guarantee for future progress, and is gradually ushering iv a period of enlightenment
WILLIAM G. ABBOTT.
TABREEZ, November 11, 1880.
(Inclosure 3 in No. 102.1
Consul-General Abbott to Earl Granrille.
TABREEZ, November 15, 1880. (Received December 4.) MY LORD: I have the honor to transmit herewith to your lordship extracts from my diary, kept at Oroomiah during the Kurdish invasion, and copy of my dispatch to Her Majesty's minister at Teheran on the same subject; giving, also, an account of my journey through Merghever, Ushner, Suldowz, and Soug Boulak to the Persian camp at Binab.
Hearing very alarming accounts of the progress of the Kurdish armies towards Tabreez, I considered it my duty to quit Oroomiah and return to my post with as little delay as possible. I should have incurred great danger by attempting to traverse the ordinary route by Selmas, Sheikh Sedik being on the point of attacking the Persian force under Taimur Pasha Khan in that neighborhood. The only course open to me was to trust myself to a Kurdish escort given by the sheikh, and to proceed through the line of country which had surrendered to his arms. Even the route which I selected presented many perils, and it was with a feeling of much relief that I at length entered the Persian lines.
The sheikh having informed me that the escort would be waiting for me at the Kurdish camp I was obliged to proceed there, where I found it in readiness to accompany me.