HC Deb 13 August 1889 vol 339 cc1140-1
MR. SUMMERS (Huddersfield)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the following allegations with respect to the condition of the Armenian subjects of the Sultan, namely, that at Diarbekir robberies and burglaries are being patronised by the head of the local police, who has organised a gang of robbers from among the convicts; that Kurdish ruffians recently strangled an Armenian merchant named Keverk, carried off his goods, and threw the corpse of their victim into the Tigris; that at Mardin, manifestoes have been placarded calling upon the Mahometans to massacre the infidels; that the Sultan has ordered the dissolution of Armenian societies engaged in commercial pursuits, and that the police have entered the premises of these societies and confiscated books, accounts, and money; that the court martial instituted at Yildiz under the presidency of Dervish Pasha continues to sentence Armenians to years' hard labour or perpetual exile, and that the Reverend Boghos Vartabed, who was imprisoned last autumn on the petty charge of having published 15 years ago a pamphlet on Armenian affairs, has been found guilty by this tribunal and condemned to perpetual banishment; and, whether he is able to give the House any information with regard to these allegations; and, if not, whether he will cause inquiry to be made.


The information we have received would not justify us in accepting as accurate the statements suggested in the question, but the details cannot be examined in an answer to a question. I have only two days ago laid full Papers on Armenia upon the Table. The attention of Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople will be called to the questions put by the hon. Member.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been called to a telegram sent by the Governor-General of Van to the Imperial Government, and published in the Levant Herald of June 25, which telegram states that two brigands killed in a fight with the Turkish gendarmerie were, from documents found on their person, discovered to be Armenians disguised as Khurds, having correspondence with Armenians established in London and other cities of Europe, and whose real motives were to stir up a political agitation.


In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for North St. Pancras, he showed me the statements read by him on entering the House, and, if I am not mistaken, they are in one of a series of able papers called "Diplomatic Sheets." There are reports on either side contradictory of each other in regard to such occurrences; but Her Majesty' Government could not accept either as authentic without further information.

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