Silent approval of the First Armenian Genocide

In 1896, Emile Dillon was the Russian correspondent for the UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. He reported on the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which, sadly, was the forerunner (arguably the First) of the Genocide in 1915. He made an appeal to the people of England and to the British Government to take a moral stance on the issue. Then, as in 1915, as well as now, despite our self-perceived credentials as a country of fair people, and high moral standing, we dare not make a principled statement on the terrible events which took place; events which only the perpetrators and pedants can ignore! By our silence then, and our continued silence, we condone those actions. Over 100 years later we cannot address these issues, and our interventions in global issues is clumsy and ultimately driven by what serves us best, dressed up in the shabby clothes of humanitarian and altruistic concern.

These extracts are from the original book dated 1896.

“The time has come for every reasoning inhabitant of these islands deliberately to accept or repudiate his share of the joint indirect responsibility of the British nation for a series of the hugest and foulest crimes that have ever stained the pages of human history. The Armenian people in Anatolia are being exterminated, root and branch, by Turks and Kurds – systematically and painfully exterminated by such abominable and  fiendish methods as may well cause the most sluggish blood to boil and seethe with shame and indignation….

…If, for instance, it be expedient that Armenians should be exterminated, why chop them up piecemeal…Why must an honest, hard-working man be torn from his bed or his fireside, forced to witness the violation of his daughter by a band of all pitiless demons, unable to rescue or help her, and then, his own turn come, have his hand cut off and stuffed into his mouth…

…Yet it is a sad fact that we have not helped the sufferings of these woe-stricken people by any amount, and that the help which no one of us, individually, would dream of withholding from a friend, a neighbour, or a bitter enemy were he in such straits, we all, as a nation, deny to our Christian brethren who are being beaten, sawn in two, burned or thrust fainting into a gory grave.

Why is it that our compassion for these, our fellow men, has not assumed the form of effective help? For reasons of “higher politics”; because the Turks and the Kurds, are indispensable to Christian civilisation – for the time being; and because the millions of soldiers, the deadly rifles, and the destructive warships which are  most costly possessions of contemporary Europe cannot be spared in such a cause – they are wanted by the Christian nations to kill each other.

In a word, the civilisation built on Christ’s Gospel cannot stand, or at least cannot thrive without the support of Kurdish cruelty and Turkish thuggery! It may be asked, on what grounds the people of Great Britain ought to show themselves more ready to pity, and more eager to help the Armenians than our European neighbours. The question differs little in spirit from that which the priest and the Levite asked themselves as they passed the helpless man mentioned by Jesus, who, on his way to Jericho, had fallen among thieves, and was left lying half-dead.

…And if it is, as Christians, and men, to give the approval of silence to a line of conduct that would disgrace a tribe of heathens? Is there any political advantage so important and so seductive that the hope of ultimately securing it should harden our hearts to utter insensibility to the laws of God, the promptings of conscience, the inborn instincts of healthy human nature?

It cannot be too clearly stated, nor too widely published, that what is asked for is not the establishment of an Armenian kingdom or principality, not a “buffer state”, not even Christian autonomy in any sense that might render it offensive or dangerous to any of the Powers of Europe; but only that by some fair means the human beings who profess the Christian religion in Anatolia, and who professed and practiced it there for centuries before the Turks or Kurds were heard of, shall be enabled to live and die as human beings, and that the unparalleled crimes of which, for the past 17 years, they have been the silent victims, shall speedily and once for all be put a stop to.

Have the tender humanities of the teachings of Jesus no longer any virtue that can pass into our souls and move us to condemn in emphatic terms the abominations which are even now turning the lives of our brothers and sisters in Armenia into tortures and their horrible deaths into the triumph of the most ferocious evil that lurked in the depths of the human heart?

Yet these are the deeds which, in thousands and tens of thousands, are being perpetrated while we rejoice and thank God that at last all Europe is unanimous – unanimous in its resolve to shield the Turks, the doers of these deeds, from harm.

If there still be a spark of godliness in our souls, or  a trace of healthy human sentiment in our hearts, we shall not hesitate to record our protest against these hell-born crimes, that pollute one of the fairest portions of God’s earth, and our strong condemnation of any and every line of policy that may tend directly or indirectly to perpetuate or condone them” 

Categories: Armenian Genocide

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