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During my stay at Oroomiah it appeared to me right to bring the whole weight of my influence to bear upon Sheikh Obeidoollah, both to obviate unnecessary bloodshed and to secure the safety of non-combatants.
The plunder of some of the Christian and Mussulman villages on the Oroomiah plain by the Kurdish soldiery was of course inevitable, and I fear that the additional presence of a large Persian army in that province will tend to aggravate the position of affairs in this respect. I was frequently placed, whilst at Oroomiah and on my return journey, in trying and dangerous positions, but trust that the efforts I made to save life and property in the interest of the Christian and Mussulman populations will meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government. I have, &c.,
WILLIAM G. ABBOTT.
(Inclosure 4 in No. 102.) Extracts from Consul-General Abbott's diary kept at Oroomiah during the Kurdish invasion.
On returning from the acting governor's on the afternoon of the 20th of October, I found that Dr. Cochran had received a letter from Sheikh Obeidoollah, stating that he wonld be at the Seir Mountain that night, assuring the missionaries that he would respect the European and Christian communities, and advising them to collect together, as far as possible, all their people and protégés in places of safety. The college buildings were soon crowded with a multitude of Nestorians, men, women, and children, who had sought a refuge there.
October 21.–The sheikh sent two messengers to Oroomiah, calling upon the people to surrender, and giving them till noon to consider. Dr. Cochran and Mr. Labaren went to Mar Sorghees to interview the sheikh. At 11 a. m. the sheikh sent a confidential Kurdish officer and his Armenian employé, Simon Agha, to call upon me with a friendly letter. Previously I had written to the acting governor of Oroomiah, and to the Sheikh-ul-Islam to try and persuade them to surrender and thus avoid bloodshed.
October 22.-This morning I rode into town with Dr. Cochran, and had an interview with the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh. I said to the latter that I did not think his slender army would be sufficient to resist that of the Kurds, and that it appeared best for him to snrrender, in order to prevent the town being sacked and great bloodshed ensuing. The governor said that he, with his staff and troops, were determined to resist, but that the citizens could do as they liked. I advised the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh to fight the sheikh outside the walls of Oroomiah, in order to avoid pillage and slaughter in the town. The principal mollahs had sent to the sheikh to give in their submission in their own name and that of the city. The Ikbal-ed-Dowleh requested me as a favor to seek an interview with the sheikh to try and induce him to suspend hostilities, and meantime he would communicate with the capital and with Tabreez. If the sheikh would abandon his intention of attacking Oroomiah, the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh agreed to suspend hostilities, but if the sheikh were determined to fight, the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh proposed to go outside the town for that purpose.
On returning to the college, I heard that the sheikh, with his army, was on his way to the town. I therefore wrote a note to the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh to inform him of this, giving him, as far as I could learn, the pumbers of the sheikh's armies, and advising him to decide, without loss of time, whether he intended to fight or to surrender. I then went on with Dr. Cochran and Mr. Shedd towards the sheikh's camp. We soon met the sheikh, with his army, advancing towards Oroomiah. The sheikh was very affable, and expressed great friendship for England. I recommended the Christian populations and all non-combatants to the sheikh, who promised me that he would do his utmost to protect their lives and property. I then delivered the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh's message. The sheikh said that it was too late now to enter into negotiations, and complained much of the Persian Government. I informed him that I must decline to enter into any discussion regarding the quarrel which had arisen between himself and Persia; tbat Her Majesty's Government desired peace and security within the Turkish and Persian borders, and had at heart the welfare of the inhabitants of those regions, irrespective of race or creed. I then took my leave.
The sheikh, on the 230 October, sent a confidential message to me at 8 a. m. to announce his intention of making an assault upon the city in the afternoon. He said he wished all non-combatants, whether natives or foreigners, to have an opportunity of quitting the city beforehand, his object being to obviate an unnecessary effusion of blood. He therefore requested me to make an effort to enter the city with his Armenian employé, Simon Agba, and to make arrangements with the Ikbal-edDowleh for the departure of non-combatants. I acceded to this proposal, and at 9 a. m., accompanied by Dr. Cochran, Simon Agha, and my two Persian guards, proceeded, on what I considered to be an errand of mercy, towards the principal gate of the city. On arriving within a hundred yards of the gate I sent on a guard to
announce the object of my mission; but presently we saw that the Persians had opened fire upon him. In fact, within a few seconds we were all under fire and in the midst of a shower of rifle bullets, which fell thick on all sides. I and my companions then beat a hasty retreat to the college, and I owed my life to the fleetness of my horse.
On the same afternoon Simon Agha brought me a letter from the sheikh, in which, after recapitulating the above incidents, the latter requested me to address him a letter which he could produce hereafter in proof of his anxiety to conduct the present campaign upon principles of humanity. I declined to furnish the sheikh with such a document, but addressed to him a brief and cautiously worded letter, in which, after acknowledging the receipt of the one he had written to me, I confined myself to stating that he might be sure I should report faithfully to Her Majesty's Government the full particulars of the present war.
October 26.—The Nestorian metropolitan of Nochea, Mar Yusuf, called upon me. He is in a most anomalous position, the sheikh having compelled him to follow the Kurdish army with 300 mountain Nestorians. I asked him whether he and his flock were well treated at Nochea. He said he had no particular complaint to make, but seemed afraid to enter into details. I assured him of the sympathy of Her Majesty's Govern. ment for himself and his people, and of our desire for their welfare as fellow Christians. From what I hear, the bishop and bis flock, although not actually persecuted by the sheikh, are kept by him in a state of complete serfdom. The bishop is not even allowed to sit in the presence of the sheikh, who treats him like a menial in every respect.
Ĉctober 27.-I received a letter from the sheikh informing me that a deputation of the citizens and mollahs of Oroomiah were coming to a garden at Siaoush, near his camp, together with members from the foreign communities, to hold a meeting regarding the surrender of the city. The sheikh requested me and the American missionaries to attend this meeting. In a few minutes Khalef Seyed Mohammed (the sheikh's brother-in-law), several Kurdish officers, and the metropolitan of Nochea, came to the college to state that the citizens and mollahs had proposed the above arrangement, that the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh would withdraw with his army outside the walls, and that the meeting was fixed for 2 p. m. We waited till 3 p. m., but as the deputation did not leave the city, the sheikh's messenger left for the Kurdish camp.
At this interview Khalef Seyed Mohammed represented to me that the sheikh, udable to bear any longer the exactions of the Persian Government, who did nothing to repress the incessant depredations of the Herki and Shekkak tribes, and had grievously maltreated the Kurds through the oppressive conduct of the ex-prince governor of Oroomiah, had resolved to strike a blow for the independence of Kurdistan, and to form it into a separate principality. The sheikh would undertake to repress brigandage on the part of the various tribes, who had been a continual thorn in the side of Turkey and Persia, both of those powers being unable to check them; to restore order within the two borders, to place Christians and Mussulmans on a footing of equality, to favor education, and allow churches and schools to be built. All the sheikh wanted was the moral support of the European powers, especially of England, for whom he had the greatest friendship and regard. The sheikh asked to be put on his trial. If he failed to organize Kurdistan, and to establish there a stable government, then he was prepared to be judged by the tribunal of Europe, and to abide by the consequences.
I replied to the Khalef that I was not in a position to state in what light England or the other powers would view the sheikh's project. I could, however, assure him that, although Her Majesty's Government were in no way concerned in the dispute which had arisen between the sheikh and Persia, which was a question I must decline to discuss, yet England was most anxious that peace and security should be maintained within the two borders, that Christians and Mussulmans alike should enjoy complete religious and civil liberty, and in the present strnggle the lives and property of all nou-combatants should be respected. But, on the other hand, it did not appear to me that the lamentable events which had occurred at Miandow were a fitting prelude to the establishment of that order which the sheikh had professed his anxiety to inangurate. The intelligence of the massacre of Miandow would send a thrill of pain throughout Europe, and be received with unmitigated sorrow and disapprobation by Her Majesty's Government. I, however, trusted that a way might be opened for negotiations between the Persian Government and the sheikh upon a basis of justice for both sides.
T'he Khalef, before taking leave, said that Sheikh Obeidoollah was ready to fur: nish me with an escort which would accompany me through Merghever, Ushnei, and Suldouz to Sonj Boulak, the present headquarters of his son, Abd-el-Kader, and that the latter would give me a safe conduct to within an easy distance of the Persian lines.
On the 28th October I proceeded to the Kurdish camp, where I had an interview with Sheikh Obeidoollah, who handed me a letter for his son, Abd-el-Kader. I then started on my journey with the Kurdish escort.
(Inclosure 5 in No. 102.)
Consul-General Abbott to Mr. Thomson.
TABREEZ, November 7, 1880. Sır: With reference to my dispatch which I addressed your excellency on the 7th ultimo from Oroomiah, I have further the honor to report that on the 16th October the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh removed his camp to Badilboo, to watch the movements of a large Kurdish force stationed at Somai Beradost. The Kurds afterwards occupied Fort Ismail Agha, between Beradost and the Oroomiah plain. The Persians, in their unsuccessful attempt to dislodge them from that position, lost two guns.
On the 20th October Sheikh Obeidoollah, coming from Nochea and Merghever, encamped with a considerable army on the Seir Mountain. His force and that of his son, Sedik, who took up his position at Hyderloo, were said to number 8,000 men.
On the following day the sheikh sent two messengers to Oroomiah to demand the surrender of the town. The Ikbal-ed-Dowleh, who had returned from Badilboo, resolved to defend it, and fortified himself within the walls with three regiments. The attack began on the 22d of October, the enemy investing the town, on all sides, but up to the 20th they made no impression on the walls. The Kurds once effected an entrance by the Charbash gate, but were repulsed with loss.
In the meantime the inhabitants offered to surrender, but the Ikbal-ed-Dowleh determined to defend the town in the attempt.
I took an opportunity to recommend the Christian populations and non-combatants to the sheikh, who promised to respect their lives and property, but several villages on the Ooormiab plain were given up to plunder, which the sheikh seemed powerless to repress.
I left Oroomiah on the 28th of October, under a Kurdish escort with which the sheikh furnished me, and proceeded to Tabreez, through Marghever, Ushnei, Suldonz, and Sonj Boulak. The sheikh assured me that it would be unsafe to attempt the Selmas ronte, as his son Sedik was about to attack Taimour Pasha Khan's army in that direction.
When I left Oroomiah the sheikh was encamped at the foot of the Seir Mountain with about 6,000 men, He gave me a letter to his son, Abd-el-Kader, who received me with much courtesy.
The Kurdish army at Souj Boulak did not number inore than 1,500 men, the.majority of the tribes having left for their homes laden with booty from the Miandow plain.
The region between the rivers Tataoo and Yaghetoo, through which I passed, has been utterly destroyed by the Kurds. Upwards of 2,000 villages have been burnt and 10,000 persons are said to be homeless. I ascertained that as many as 2,000 Persians had bech massacred at Miandow, and that women and children had been amongst the victims. The corpses of 30 Armenians and 50 Jews had been also found there. On the other hand 90 Armenians, who had succeeded in effecting their escape, were being cared for in the villages of the Russian Tajir Bashee, near Souj Boulak. Out of a population of 330 Jews, only 13 have as yet been seen alive, and large numbers of Jewish women and children have been taken into captivity by the Kurds.
Being completely at the mercy of sheikh Abd-el-Kader, I was obliged to accede to whatever arrangement he might make for getting me into the Persian lines. He informed me that an escort of 300 Kurdish cavalry would accompany me within an easy distance of the Persian camp, and I accordingly left Souj Boulak with that large force.
Hamza Agha, chief of the Mangour tribe, Abdullah Khan Zerzé, his brother Ibrahim Kban, and many other noted chiefs joined the force. On arriving at Chillik, the chiefs took a somewhat abrupt leave of me, and I soon lost sight of the Kurdish cav. alry; but, from the dense smoke which afterwards appeared on all sides of the plain, it became evident that they were engaged in burning the adjacent villages. I rode into many villages, which had been partially destroyed, and collected together the remaining inhabitants, warning them of the approaching danger. By this means I succeeded in saving the lives of about thirty helpless Persians, who I brought on with me in safety to Binab.
I arrived on the 3d instant in the Persian camp at Binab, and immediately gave the latest intelligence of the enemy's movements and numbers to the Itimad-es-Sultaneh, who decided, in consequence, to advance upon Sonj Boulak. The army from Teheran, under the Kishmet-ed-Dowleh, arrived at Saïnkaleh on the 4th instant. The combined Persian forces amount to 20,000 men, and twenty pieces of artillery, twelve of which are Krupp guns.
I learned in the Persian camp that Taimour Pasha Khan had defeated Sheikh Sedik in an engagement between Selmas and Oroomiah. The Sepah Salar has also given me the same intelligence.
The Nestorian Metropolitan, Mar Yusuf, had accompanied the sheikh from Nochea
to the war, and was in the Kurdish camp at Oroomiah. The sheikh had also pressed into his service about 300 mountain Nestorians. His band of musicians was entirely composed of these people.
I propose sending your excellency, by next post, extracts of my diary kept at Oroomiah, there being no time to do so by the present opportunity.
I saw the Sepah Salar to-day, and, from what he said, was led to suppose that Taimour Pasha Khan had succeeded in raising the siege of Oroomiah. His highness informed me that he intended going himself to Souj Boulak as soon as possible. I have, &c.,
WILLIAM G. ABBOTT.
Mr. Evarts to Mr. Dawes.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 14, 1880. SIR: Referring to your letter of the 20th ultimo, in relation to the peril to which certain American missionaries are thought to be exposed in the province of Oroomiah in Persia, and referring also to the reply of this Department, dated the 20th of last month, to your above-men. tioned letter, I now have the honor to inform you that a telegram from the minister of the United States at London, dated the 11th instant, to this Department contains the intelligence that the British Government has intervened on behalf of the American missionaries in Persia, in conformity with the request of this Department. I have, &c.,
WM. M. EVARTS.
Mr. Evarts to Mr. Lowell.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 31, 1880. SIR: Referring to instruction No. 78 of the 24th ultimo, requesting you to ask the intervention of Her Majesty's Government for the protection of the American missionaries in Oroomiah, Persia, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatches numbered 98, 99, and 102, reporting the action of Her Majesty's Government in extending to the missionaries in question the desired protection, and also furnishing interesting and valuable information in regard to their present condition.
The prompt action taken by Her Majesty's Government in extending protection to the missionaries, and in furnishing full information in regard to their present condition, is exceedingly gratifying to this gov. ernment, and I will therefore thank you to lose no time in conveying to the proper quarter the thanks of the President for the prompt and timely action of the British authorities in reference to this matter. I am, &c.,
WM. M. EVARTS.
Mr. Evarts to Mr. Dawes.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 31, 1880. SIR: Referring to the reply of this Department of the 26th ultimo, in reply to your letter of the 20th of that month, I now have the honor to
inform you that three dispatches have been received from Mr. Lowell, the American Minister at London, from which it appears that the British Government has extended to the American missionaries at Oroomiah the desired protection. The dispatches in question also contain interesting details concerning the present condition of the American missionaries in Persia, which it will afford me pleasure to place before you when you next visit the Department. I have, &c.,
WM. M. EVARTS.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Evarts.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, January 1, 1881. (Received January 17.) SIR: I received from Lord Granville, on the 30th ultimo, two printed papers and to-day the copy of a telegram in relation to the position of the American missionaries in Persia. I have the honor to inclose copies of these documents in connection with my No. 102 of the 24th ultimo, and previous dispatches on the same subject. I have, &c.,
J. R. LOWELL.
(Inclosure 1 in No. 108.-Translation.)
Sheikh Obeidullah to Dr. Cochran.
SEPTEMBER 25, 1880. (Received at the United States legation, December 30, 1880.) You have no doubt heard how that in former years the Shuja-ed-Dowleh caused 50 of my dependents to be beheaded without fault or crime, and caused me damage to the extent of 100,000 tomans.
Neither the Ottoman nor the Persian Government have purity of intention. They have not gone into any of our rights. Besides this, he beat Farajullah Khan, the son of Hajji Ghafoor Khan, who was one of the Ushnoo chiefs, in such a manner that he died. Last year also the Mo'een-ed-Dowleh took Abdullah Khan and Ibrahim Khan of Ushnoo, fining them 20,000 tomans, thus utterly ruining their families. He also took three women captive.
This year the governor of the Mikri district took Feizullah Beg, punishing him also, although without fault, and fined him 1,500 tomans. He also took some Tunkoos women by force from their husbands. During the last short time the governor of Souj Bonlak invited Hamzah Mankoori, who is a chief of several tribes in those parts, under the pretense of showing confidence in him, but in reality with the object of imprisoning and confining him. He made his escape out of the room, killing two men on bis way, and with much difficulty freed himself. The resnlt of this kind of oecurrences of violence and oppression cannot be described. It is because of these kind of tbings that Kurdistan is obliged to be, and is, under the necessity of being nnited, and can (no longer) put up with any such base and ruinous acts.
We therefore earnestly beg of you that you will fully inform and explain the matter to the British consul at Tabreez, so that, please God, the case of Kurdistan being understood, it may be inquired into. Hajji Ismaïl is therefore sent to explain the matter referred to.
(Inclosure 2 in No. 108.- Translation.)
Sheikh Obeidullah to Dr. Cochran.
OCTOBER 5, 1880. (Received at the United States legation December 30, 1880.) I send Mollah Ismail to explain, confidentially, as I have verbally explained to him the state of affairs here, and I specially request that you will inform the English Gov